A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The most important event of the period was the erection of the Liverpool Castle, which had taken place before 1235 and may safely be attributed to the first William de Ferrers. (fn. 1) There had long been a castle at West Derby; it was in ruins in 1296, (fn. 2) but it had been in existence in 1232, (fn. 3) when the first Ferrers took possession; when his son succeeded him, Liverpool Castle had been built; (fn. 4) probably the one was intended to take the place of the other. No record of its erection survives, nor any account of the fabric before a late date. It was demolished in 1720, and no satisfactory views or plans of it survive. (fn. 5) It stood at the top of the modern Lord Street; that is, on the highest point of land in the town, immediately overlooking the entrance to the Pool. Occupying an artificially created plateau, almost exactly 50 yds. square, it was surrounded by a moat some 20 yds. wide, cut out of the solid rock. (fn. 6) The main fabric consisted of (1) a great gatehouse surmounted by two small towers, which stood at the north-eastern corner, and looked down Castle Street; (2) three circular towers at the three other corners; one of these, probably that at the south-east corner, was built later than the rest of the fabric, in 1442; the southwestern tower seems to have been regarded as the keep of the fortress; (3) curtain walls connected the four main towers; on the eastern side the wall rose from the edge of the rock-plateau; on the north and south it was recessed so as to be commanded from the towers; on the west it formed an obtuse angle, the angle touching the edge of the rock; (4) the hall and a chapel probably lay respectively along the western and southern walls, and were connected with the south-western tower; (5) there were also a brewhouse and a bakehouse, the sites of which cannot be determined; they may have been in the north-west angle, near which a postern gate led to an underground passage from the moat to the edge of the river. (fn. 7) The courtyard seems to have been divided by a wall running from north to south. A survey of 2 October 1559 (fn. 8) gives further interesting details of the building. It was at the time 'in utter ruin and decay,' there having been no lead on any of the buildings within the memory of man. The great tower, probably that at the south-west, had a slated roof, and the commissioners suggested that it should be repaired and used for the keeping of the 'Quenes Majesties Courtes for Her Graces Wappentacke of West Derbyshyre, being a very greate soken,' and for the storage of the court rolls. The 'ringe walle' or curtain and the masonry of the towers seem to have been fairly sound, and only needed protection from the weather, and the commissioners strongly advised the putting of the castle into substantial repair at a cost of about £100, 'otherwaies it were a grate defacement unto the said towne of Litherpole.' No mention is made of any moat in the report, and there is some tradition that none existed till the Civil Wars, but no proof of this is obtainable.
There was a dovecot under the castle wall, and an orchard ran down the slope to the Pool on the east. Out of this orchard Lord Street was cut in the 17th century. Thus the first period of baronial suzerainty had resulted in the overawing of the burgesses by a formidable fortress.
On the rebellion and forfeiture of Robert de Ferrers Liverpool, with other possessions between Ribble and Mersey, passed to the hands of the Crown. Henry III at once granted them with the honour of Lancaster to his second son, Edmund; to whose representatives Mary de Ferrers, wife of the forfeited earl and niece of the king, was ordered to surrender the castle of Liverpool in July 1266. (fn. 9) This begins the second part of the baronial period of Liverpool history, extending over the earldoms of Edmund and Thomas of Lancaster, 1266–1322. Both of these earls seem to have treated the borough with some harshness. In the first place the lease of the farm was not renewed. Earl Edmund took the administration of the town into his own hands, (fn. 10) or at least broke up the farm into several parts; and the total yield under the new system in place of the old rent of £10 amounted to £25 10s. in the latter years of Earl Edmund and about £30 by the end of the reign of Earl Thomas; the tolls of market and fair alone brought in as much as the old rent; but there seems reason for believing that a farm of these tolls was held by the burgesses. (fn. 11)
The greatly increased yield of the town affords evidence, however, that the earl was doing his best to develop its resources, and the beginning of a period of prosperity may perhaps be attributed to this time. In addition to the suppression of the lease of the farm, Edmund overrode the chartered rights of the burgesses. In 1292 the bailiffs and community of Liverpool were summoned on a quo warranto (fn. 12) plea to Lancaster. No bailiffs came; but several men came for the community, and, producing the charters of John and Henry III, stated that they had been a free borough with a gild, &c.; but that Earl Edmund suffered them not to have a free borough, or to elect a bailiff 'of themselves'; wherefore they did not claim these liberties at present. The further hearing of the case was adjourned, but there is no record of the decision. Whatever the decision, the burgesses did not regain their rights till the beginning of the reign of Edward III.
During this period the growing importance of the town (or the power of its masters) is recognized in the summons of burgesses from Liverpool to the Parliament of 1295, and again to that of 1307. (fn. 13) The first Liverpool members of Parliament were Adam son of Richard, and Robert Pinklowe. After 1307 the borough did not again return members to Westminster until the middle of the 16th century.
During the earldom of Thomas of Lancaster the steady progress of Liverpool appears to have continued. It is to this period that we must attribute the inclosure of Salthouse Moor, of which no mention is made in 1296, but which was in occupation and yielding rent in 1322. (fn. 14) This is the only large approvement from the waste of which there is any trace, before the 17th century. The area first inclosed amounted to 45 acres; which were in 1346 (fn. 15) divided among 51 free tenants and 47 tenants-at-will, and in 1322–7 yielded 40s. of rent. Most of the tenants in these new lands already held burgages in the borough, but 32 of them were not included in the burgess roll, and this involved that they were a new class of tenants, not sharing in the liberties, but directly under the control of the lord. He could hold a distinct court for them if he wished; and though this does not seem to have been done at this period, that was only because the lord's steward was presiding over the borough-court. At a later date questions of the first importance were to arise from the existence of this group of tenants.
This was not the only new use made of the waste by Thomas of Lancaster. In the year 1310, on a visit to the borough, the earl granted to the burgesses (fn. 16) 6 Cheshire acres of moss 'adjoining the mill-pool of the vill of Liverpool' at a rental of one silver penny per annum. This was in exchange for the right which they had previously possessed of digging peat in Toxteth Park. Important as being the first piece of corporate property owned by the burgesses, this patch of moss lay at the upper end and on the eastern side of the Pool, and formed part of the Mosslake. The rent of it appears among the revenues of the town during the remainder of the 14th century; in the 15th it disappeared, being merged in that general control over the whole of the waste which the burgesses of that period quietly usurped. But in spite of this gift the earl does not seem to have attached much value to the borough, for in 1315 he granted both castle and borough to Robert de Holand. But no charter was sealed, nor did the tenants do homage; (fn. 17) in consequence of which Holand's son, after the death of Thomas of Lancaster, failed to obtain restitution of the estate, though he petitioned Parliament and obtained a favourable report from the treasurer and the barons of the exchequer. (fn. 18)
The confusion produced by the turbulence of Thomas of Lancaster and the weak government of Edward II was felt at Liverpool as elsewhere. In 1315 Adam Banastre, Henry de Lea, and William de Bradshagh raised a rebellion against the earl; and marching from their rendezvous at Charnock by way of Wigan, under the standard of Adam Banastre, made an assault upon Liverpool Castle. (fn. 19) They were driven back, and then fell upon West Derby. This is the only occasion on which the castle is known to have been attacked before the Civil War.
On the attainder and execution of Thomes of Lancaster royal agents reappeared in the borough. The very full accounts (fn. 20) which they rendered from 1322 to 1327 supply some of the most valuable material for ascertaining the condition of the town; and it is to this time that the single court roll for the mediaeval period —that for the year 1324—belongs. In 1323 King Edward II himself visited Liverpool, staying for a week in the castle between 24 and 30 October. In preparation for him the castle was thoroughly repaired and victualled; (fn. 21) and the sum of 1s. 8d. in particular was expended in mending the roof of the hall. (fn. 22) During the last troubled years of Edward II, the bailiffs of Liverpool were kept busy carrying out feverish orders: such as to hold ready for the king's service all ships of sufficient burthen to carry 40 tuns of wine, to make returns of such ships, to warn mariners to beware of pirates, (fn. 23) to proclaim kindly usage for Flemings. (fn. 24) When, in 1326, the situation became really critical, the bailiffs were ordered to send all ships of 50 tons and upwards to Portsmouth; (fn. 25) to search all persons entering or leaving the port, and to seize letters prejudicial to the king; (fn. 26) and to prevent the export of horses, armour, or money. (fn. 27) So, amid feverish feeble strife, the reign of Edward II came to an end. With it ended an epoch for Liverpool. The century from 1229 to 1327 had seen a serious diminution of burghal liberties, but it had also witnessed a substantial expansion of the borough's resources. In the next age this expansion continues, and is accompanied by a remarkable revival of the privileges of the burgesses, which attained their highest point at the end of the century.
The disorders which had marked the later years of Edward II continued to disturb Liverpool in the early years of his successor, and their echoes are audible in the trials of the period of which record remains. In 1332 Robert son of Thomas de Hale slew Henry de Walton at Liverpool, in the church before the altar; a few days later Simon son of William de Walton struck and wounded Henry Ithell, and on the next day his brother Richard struck and wounded Robert the Harper. (fn. 28) In 1335 Sir William Blount, sheriff of the county, was murdered in Liverpool while engaged in the execution of his office, (fn. 29) and four years later five men, in consideration of their having 'gone beyond the seas' in the king's service, (fn. 30) were pardoned for this crime and also for the murder of Henry Baret and Roger Wildgoose. As late as St. Valentine's Day 1345 there was a serious disturbance of the peace in Liverpool: (fn. 31) a body of lawless men having entered the town in arms, with banners unfurled as in war, forced their way into the court where the king's justices were in session, and after hurling 'insulting and contumacious words,' 'did wickedly kill, mutilate, and plunder of their goods, and wound very many persons there assembled, and further did prevent the justices from showing justice … according to the tenour of their commission.' Three weeks later special justices were appointed to deal with the offenders, and in July a large number of persons, many of them being men of position in the county, were pardoned at the request of the Earl of Lancaster, on condition that they went at their own charges for one year to do service to the king in Gascony.
A condition of society such as is indicated by these events could scarcely be favourable to the growth of peaceful trade; nevertheless, the growth of Liverpool continued. In 1338 the earl appears to have made an addition to the approved lands in Salthouse Moor, and enfeoffed a number of tenants at fines of 5 marks to the acre; (fn. 32) and the details of the assessment for the levy of a ninth in 1340 show a number of substantial persons to have been resident in the town. (fn. 33) We now obtain the first clear indications of the extent and nature of the trade of the town, of which something will be said later; it would appear that Liverpool had become one of the most considerable ports of the west coast. As such, during the Scottish wars of the early years of Edward III, and during the Irish wars of the later years of his reign, it proved very useful as a port of embarkation; and it is probably to the attention thus directed to it that we must attribute the revival of the town's political fortunes.
In 1327 the constable of Liverpool Castle was ordered (fn. 34) to receive within the castle men fleeing from the invading Scots. Next year the bailiffs of Liverpool were ordered to have all vessels in the port of 40 tons burthen in readiness to resist the king's enemies from Normandy and Poitou. (fn. 35) In 1333 the bailiffs were commanded to retain all vessels of burthen sufficient for 50 tuns of wine, and to prepare them hastily with double equipment for the defence of the kingdom against the Scots, (fn. 36) and the mandate was repeated in the next year, a royal commissioner being told off to supervise the preparations. (fn. 37) In 1335 a clerk of the Exchequer was told off to provide two ships of war fully manned and armed, to sail from Liverpool in pursuit of a great ship loaded with wine and arms, coming from abroad, and destined for the aid of the king's enemies in the castle of Dumbarton. (fn. 38) These ships seem also to have been used to carry supplies for the royal army to Skymburnesse, at the mouth of the Solway. (fn. 39) In the same year six of the largest ships to be found on the west coast between Liverpool and Skymburnesse were ordered to be manned and armed and sent against the Scottish ships. (fn. 40)
In the French wars of the middle part of the reign Liverpool naturally took less share; (fn. 41) but the insecurity of English waters which marked the first part of the war is indicated by the receipt of an order to the Liverpool bailiffs not to permit vessels to leave the port for foreign parts save in great fleets and under escort, (fn. 42) while on more than one occasion Liverpool ships were summoned to southern ports to help in dealing with threatened French attacks. (fn. 43)
In the later part of the reign of Edward III, and during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV, Liverpool was still more actively engaged in connexion with the Irish wars than she had been at the commencement of the period with the Scottish wars. In 1361 'the whole navy of the land, competently armed,' was brought to transport Lionel of Clarence and his army to Ireland from Liverpool and Chester; (fn. 44) in 1372 all ships between 20 tons and 200 tons burthen between Bristol and Liverpool were ordered to be collected at Liverpool for the transport (fn. 45) of William de Windsor, 'governor … of our realm of Ireland, and of the men at arms and others about to depart in our service in the retinue of the said William.' In the next year all ships between Southampton and Furness were ordered to be brought to Liverpool for a similar purpose. (fn. 46) The port was constantly utilized for the embarkation of troops, and the Patent Rolls contain frequent notices of the assemblage of ships and considerable forces of men in the town on the way to Ireland. (fn. 47)
This frequent use of the port for royal purposes, which doubtless brought with it an expansion of trade to both Scotland and Ireland, is beyond question the main reason for the favour now shown to Liverpool both by the king and by the earl. (fn. 48) The first sign of this is the grant of the right to collect certain dues for paving the town, first made in 1328 for a period of three years, and renewed several times during the century. (fn. 49) The collection of these dues and the spending of them represent a new kind of corporate action on the part of the burgesses, and therefore mark a stage in the development of municipal government. The money does not seem always to have been used for the purpose for which the grant was made, for in 1341 a commission of investigation had to be sent to Liverpool, as the king was informed that much of the money collected had been misappropriated. (fn. 50) In 1333 a still more valuable favour was received from the king in the grant of a new charter. (fn. 51) The charter contains no new grant, being merely a confirmation of its predecessors. But we have seen that such a confirmation was highly necessary, and we may assume that from this date the free exercise of chartered liberties, prevented since the accession of Edmund of Lancaster, recommenced.
Still more important than the charter, the lease of the farm of the borough is gradually regained during this period. (fn. 52) At the beginning of the reign of Edward III the burgesses seem to have held a lease only of the tolls of the market and fair. (fn. 53) The first great advance is marked by the extent of the lands of the second Henry of Lancaster, made in 1346 after his succession to the earldom. In this deed there is a combined farm of the mills, tolls, and ferry for £24 per annum, which has been held for some years by an unnamed farmer, almost certainly representing the burgesses, and which is henceforward to be raised to £26. (fn. 54) In 1357 there comes a highly important new lease of the farm, (fn. 55) at a rent of £33, which was granted to eight leading burgesses on behalf of the community. This lease included the burgage rents and the profits of courts, in addition to the rights covered by the previous lease. (fn. 56) From this lease, however, the rents of the new inclosures in Salthouse Moor seem to be omitted, and it would appear that while the burgesses resumed control of their own borough-court, a separate court was now instituted for these tenants. Apart from this, the sole reservations were the castle with its purlieus, forfeitures of lands, and (probably) escheats. By 1357, therefore, the burgesses had again attained to all but the highest degree of municipal liberties. The 1357 lease appears to have been continued regularly until 1393, (fn. 57) when it was replaced by a still more extensive lease granted by John of Gaunt, which represents the highest point attained by the municipal liberties of Liverpool during the Middle Ages. (fn. 58) The rent was raised to £38, but the lease included a grant of control over the whole of the waste, a power which the burgesses were never to lose, though it is not mentioned in later leases; it included all the lord's jurisdictional rights (embracing, apparently, the right of holding a court for the Salthouse Moor tenants, which brought these tenants under the control of the borough courts and officers); and it included the right of taking escheats and forfeitures. In brief, the effect of this lease was to extrude the feudal power entirely from the borough, except within the walls of the castle. The lease was for seventeen years, and expired in 1410. It thus extended well into the new period which began when, by the accession of the House of Lancaster to the throne, the borough was once more brought into direct relation with the Crown.
The extension of municipal powers represented by these leases was accompanied by a development of the burghal system of government. In 1351 there is the first mention of a mayor of Liverpool. (fn. 59) No royal or ducal grant of the right to elect such an officer survives, and the probability is that his appearance is the result of the re-acquisition of the lease of the farm, and perhaps dates from 1346, or even earlier. Up to that time it seems probable that the burgesses had only elected one bailiff, (fn. 60) the other being nominated by the lord; and as the functions performed by the latter (collection of dues and presidency of the court) were much the more important, he would be very definitely major ballivus. When these functions pass into the hands of the burgesses, they elect their own major ballivus. It was as major ballivus that the mayor began, (fn. 61) but later he nominated a bailiff of his own. It is instructive to find that this second bailiff was always regarded as representing the Crown (i.e. the lord) as well as the mayor. (fn. 62)
It is possible that the same period also saw the institution of another element in burghal government —the Court of Aldermen. (fn. 63) Each of the leases from 1357 was granted to a group of leading citizens, most of whom repeatedly occupied the mayoral chair, and who were probably selected as substantial men, able to stand surety for the payment of the rent. In the lease of 1393 they were formally empowered to hold the borough courts. Both in its functions and in its personnel, this group closely resembles the Court of Aldermen as it is found in the 16th century, when records begin to be abundant.
Thus the 14th century, in spite of the disorders of its first half, and the distresses caused by plague and war in its second half, witnessed firstly a steady growth of the town and a steady expansion of its prosperity; and secondly a striking revival and development of its municipal liberties. One exception to this statement, however, must be made. Though there is no trace of it in the records, it would appear that the influence of the Peasants' Revolt extended to Liverpool. One of the demands made by the rebels was the withdrawal of the monopoly enjoyed by the privileged burgesses in towns; and it is probably to some such demand that we must attribute the grant of the charter of Richard II in 1382, the year after the rising. (fn. 64) The only distinctive feature of this charter is its revocation of the power of prohibiting trade by non-members of the gild which had been contained in the earlier charters, and it is inconceivable that the burgesses can have applied for this. But in spite of this charter, clearly the little borough was thriving; and it is possible, through the greater abundance of material, to get some notion of its life and working at this, the moment of its greatest prosperity.
The burgess roll appended to the extent of 1346 shows that there were 196 householders in Liverpool paying rent to the lord. On the usual basis of calculation, this would give a population of just under 1,000. But as the more substantial burgesses, who held large holdings in the fields or engaged largely in trade, must have had dependants not included in this estimate, the population may perhaps be put down at something like 1,200. It probably did not increase—it may have decreased—during the second half of the century, for Liverpool suffered severely from the Black Death; in 1360 the deaths were so numerous that the dead could not be buried in Walton Churchyard, and a licence was obtained from the Bishop of Lichfield for burials in St. Nicholas's Churchyard. (fn. 65)
This population must be regarded as being still, for the most part, except on market days, engaged in agriculture. Every burgess had holdings in the fields. The commonest holding was half a burgage, with about 1 acre in the fields, but some of the leading townsmen held much larger allotments. The will of William de Liverpool, (fn. 66) the leading burgess in the second half of the 13th century, survives, and an inventory of his property attached to it shows that his wealth was almost purely agricultural in character. He has grain in his barn worth £6 13s. 4½d., and 24 selions of growing wheat in the fields, worth £7. He has nine oxen and cows worth about 10s. apiece, six horses worth about 7s. each, and eighteen pigs valued at 1s. 6d. each. His domestic furniture is valued at £7 6s. 8d. But no merchandise is included in the inventory. As we shall see, William de Liverpool derived most of his wealth from milling.
The trade of the borough was probably mainly local in character. The weekly market, held every Saturday, and the annual fair on St. Martin's Day, probably mainly dealt in agricultural produce from the neighbouring parts of Lancashire and Cheshire. The ferries over the Mersey were of first-rate importance for this purpose; of these there seem to have been three. There seem to have been two ferries included in the Liverpool farm, (fn. 67) one to Runcorn, the other (probably) to Birkenhead. In addition, the prior of the Benedictine monastery in Birkenhead enjoyed, from 1330 at the latest, (fn. 68) the right of ferry from Birkenhead to Liverpool. In 1317 (fn. 69) Edward II granted to the prior the right of building houses of entertainment for the use of the 'great numbers of persons wishing to cross there,' who were 'often hindered,' by reason of 'contrariety of weather and frequent storms.' From the record of a Quo Warranto inquiry, to which the prior was summoned in 1354, (fn. 70) we learn that the ferry tolls from the Birkenhead side were: for a man on foot, ¼d.; for man and horse, 2d. On Liverpool market days a man on foot was charged ½d., and if carrying baggage 1d. Probably the fares on the Liverpool ferry were the same. The connexion of the Birkenhead monastery with Liverpool was intimate. The prior held in Water Street a house and barn for the storage of corn waiting for the market. (fn. 71) There is no evidence as to the nature of the tolls charged in the Liverpool market and fair. They yielded in all never less than £10 a year during the 14th century.
With regard to the sea-going trade of Liverpool the evidence is equally scanty. (fn. 72) The appointment by the Crown of the mayor as deputy steward for the prisage of wines in the Port of Liverpool in 1364 (fn. 73) seems to indicate that there was some importation of wines from Gascony, and this is borne out by other notices. Probably the sea-going trade of Liverpool at this period, as in the 16th century, was mainly with Ireland, and consisted of an exchange of rough manufactured goods and iron, against cattle and hides. The fact that down to the 18th century Bristol, Waterford, and Wexford were the only ports (fn. 74) in which Liverpool merchants claimed, and to whose traders the Liverpool burgesses habitually conceded, that right of exemption from dues which the charters granted in universal terms, seems to show that it was the Irish trade which was alone developed to any considerable extent. (fn. 75) In 1350 we get a glimpse of the nature of a Liverpool merchant's goods from a suit in which William de Longwro sued Adam de Longwro, his bailiff, for an account of his stewardship during the previous year, and his use of twenty entire woollen cloths (pieces), 10 quarters of barley, 40 quarters of oats, and iron worth £100, and of 100s., which he had received to trade with. (fn. 76) Lancashire and Yorkshire woollen goods, iron from Furness, and corn seem to be the staples of export trade. Perhaps salt from Cheshire may be added.
Nor can much be said about the industries of the borough. There is no trace of the existence of craft gilds in the mediaeval period. Two such gilds are recorded to have come into existence in the 16th century, but they were then novelties; (fn. 77) probably the number of craftsmen was too small—a few weavers and smiths may have exhausted the list. Two goldsmiths are named in the burgess roll of 1346. But the industries were doubtless merely the normal industries of a rural market-town. Brewing seems to have been carried on very actively. In the single year 1324 (fn. 78) there were thirty-five prosecutions for breaches of the assize of ale, and this involves that many more were brewing and selling ale on legal terms. Not only the demands of market days, but especially the healthy thirst of the soldiers who were constantly encamped in Liverpool during this period, makes it natural to imagine almost every burgess as making some profit in this way.
The mills play an important part in the life of the borough. (fn. 79) In 1256 (fn. 80) there had been three mills, two water-mills and a windmill, probably all at or near the same place, on the stream which ran into the upper end of the Pool, where a mill-dam remained long after the mills had vanished. By 1296 one of the water-mills had disappeared; (fn. 81) by 1323 the second had been replaced by a horse-mill, (fn. 82) probably in Castle Street. The single windmill was that of Eastham, on the rising ground south-east of the Pool, behind the modern art gallery. By 1348 (fn. 83) a second windmill had been added. This was the Townsend Mill, which stood close to the Eastham Mill, near the site of the Wellington monument. The horse-mill still survived, and the three mills were included in the leases held by the burgess body from (at the latest) 1348; each of them being separately sub leased to a working miller. At one or another of these mills all inhabitants of Liverpool were bound to grind, and they may also have been used by some of the neighbouring townships. (fn. 84) Much the most important of the mills was that of Eastham, for which, in the next century, twice as much rent was paid as for the Townsend Mill. (fn. 85) In 1375 it was leased to William son of Adam de Liverpool, the most important burgess of the period. (fn. 86) The lessors were Richard Nunn, the parson, and John Heathorn, who may have acted on behalf of the burgess body. The Townsend Mill, and perhaps the horse-mill, may have been held by the Moore family, who held them both at a later date; Sir Edward Moore, in the 17th century, claimed that his ancestors had built the Townsend Mill. (fn. 87) Thus the mills of the borough were probably in the hands of its two chief families.
It would be possible to give, from the Moore and Crosse deeds, the assessments for subsidies, and the burgess roll of 1346, an account of a number of principal families in the town. Some of these were branches of important county families, or landholders in neighbouring townships. Such were the Waltons, lords of the manor of Walton, who held the serjeanty of the wapentake of West Derby, (fn. 88) and provided at least one constable for the Castle of Liverpool; (fn. 89) in 1346 Richard de Walton held four burgages in Liverpool; (fn. 90) or the Fazakerleys, or the Irelands of Hale, or the Bootles of Kirkdale, or the hereditary reeves of West Derby, all of whom held lands in Liverpool. Among the more purely burghal families something might be said of the Barons, the Corvesors, the Longwros, the Mariotsons, the Tippups. But two families stand out in such marked prominence as to deserve special mention. The first of these was the family of Liverpool, which from the mere fact that it habitually used the place-name as its surname may be supposed to have been settled in the borough from a very early date. In 1346 the various members of the family seem to hold among them something like fifteen burgages, (fn. 91) and the Moore and Crosse deeds show them making constant acquisitions. The earliest notice of a member of this family, Richard de Liverpool, occurs between 1212 and 1226; (fn. 92) and it may be his son, or grandson, who, as Adam son of Richard, is recorded as one of the first Liverpool members of Parliament. From the beginning of the 14th century their genealogy can be traced in detail. (fn. 93) Adam de Liverpool, who in 1346 held five and five-eighths burgages, had in 1332 paid a larger sum towards the subsidy on goods than any other person in Liverpool; (fn. 94) and he was one of the jurors in the Inquisition into the earl's lands in 1346. His father, his uncle, his brother, and his nephews, each in their generation appear in more or less prominent positions. But the most distinguished member of the family was William son of Adam, whose will has been already referred to. He lived through the period of the revival of burghal liberties, dying in 1383, and he played a principal part in securing this remarkable advance. He was the first recorded mayor of Liverpool in 1351, and though the list of mayors is far from complete, he is known to have held the office eleven times. (fn. 95) As mayor he received, and probably took a large part in obtaining, the writ for the erection of the chapel of St. Nicholas in 1356. (fn. 96) In 1357 he is named first among the lessees of the great lease of the farm of the borough which forms so remarkable a landmark in the history of burghal liberties. (fn. 97) In 1361 he was rewarded by Duke Henry, for 'the good and free service' which he had done, by the grant of a pension of 20s. for life from the profits of a West Derby manor. (fn. 98) We have already seen him a tenant of the principal mill of Liverpool. In addition he owned a bakery in Castle Street, (fn. 99) and seems to have controlled a fishery, probably leasing from the duke the weir which he had erected near Toxteth Park. (fn. 100) In short, he is at once the wealthiest and the most public-spirited Liverpool burgess of his day. (fn. 101)
William de Liverpool left two sons, by different wives, both named John, one of whom founded the chantry of St. John in the Liverpool Chapel, (fn. 102) perhaps in memory of his father; but his lands and his mill presently passed into the hands of Richard de Crosse, a son of his wife by another marriage. (fn. 103) With him begins the connexion with Liverpool of the Crosse family, who are to play an exceedingly prominent part in the affairs of the borough during the next century. (fn. 104) The other branches of the Liverpool family seem to have adopted various surnames, especially Williamson (fn. 105) and Richardson, and to have become indistinguishably merged in the mass of burgesses.
The other principal Liverpool family of whom mention must be made was that of the Moores, for whom their descendant Sir Edward Moore claims that they were established in Liverpool from the earliest date. (fn. 106) This claim is probably not without justification if, as seems likely, they took their name (fn. 107) from the moorish piece of ground which lay to the north of the upper end of the Pool, at the end of Moor Street or Tithebarn Street; and we may regard them as the rivals of the Liverpool family throughout the first three centuries of the borough's history. Their seat, More Hall, lay at the northern end of the house-covered area, and its gardens ran down to the estuary. When in the 15th century they acquired a large amount of land in Kirkdale, (fn. 108) and built a new mansion, Bank Hall, there, the More Hall came to be called the Old Hall; and has given its name to a modern street. They appear in prominent parts in the borough affairs, contemporary with the Liverpools. In 1246 Ranulf de More appears as reeve of Liverpool, (fn. 109) and in 1292 John de la Mor, along with Richard de Liverpool, represented the burgesses at the Quo Warranto plea already referred to. (fn. 110) Down to the middle of the 14th century they are frequently found acting as bailiffs. (fn. 111) The younger members of the family seem often to have acted as clerks, and in that capacity to have written and preserved many deeds of land-transfer; (fn. 112) hence the archives of the family included numerous deeds not relating to their own lands. In 1346 the holdings of the family in Liverpool included sixteen and one-eighth burgages, (fn. 113) so that they slightly surpassed the Liverpools. In 1348 it was John del Mor who held, probably on behalf of the burgesses, the farm of the tolls, market, and mills. (fn. 114) But after that date the leadership of the borough seems to have been wrested from them by the Liverpools. While William son of Adam held the mayoralty at least eleven times, and his intimate friend and ally, Richard de Aynsargh, nine times, the name of Moore is conspicuously absent from the roll of mayors until 1382, (fn. 115) when William de Liverpool had practically retired. Thereafter the Moores in their turn have almost a monopoly of the mayoralty. (fn. 116) There seems here to be indicated a keen rivalry between these two leading houses, which would doubtless be accentuated if, as has been suggested above, both were rival millers. This rivalry found vent in the law courts when in 1374 Thomas del More sued William de Liverpool for having dispossessed him of the Castle Street bakery, the fishery and some turbary. (fn. 117) The matter was compromised by William's remaining in possession, but paying More an annual rent of 3s. These are the dim echoes of what was probably a pretty lively feud.
Outside of the liberties of the borough, but constantly affecting its fortunes, was the castle. It was ruled by a constable, receiving an annual salary of £6 6s. 8d.; (fn. 118) the constable was generally, if not always, also keeper of Toxteth Park, and sometimes also of Croxteth and Simonswood Parks, (fn. 119) for which he received a further salary of £2. The connexion of Toxteth Park in particular with Liverpool was so intimate that in the next century the Crown found it necessary to make a special statement in the farm leases reserving it from the farm. (fn. 120) The names of several constables survive; (fn. 121) the office at this period being not yet hereditary, as it became in the next century. The constable did not usually reside in the castle, but in a house just outside of its gate. (fn. 122) In normal times there was no standing garrison in the castle, and the permanent paid staff seems to have consisted of a watchman and a doorkeeper, each of whom was paid 1½d. per diem. (fn. 123) There were, however, several houses within the castle, (fn. 124) where there may have been permanent rent-paying residents, though they may have been reserved for the use of the officers of the forces, which constantly passed through the town. A detailed list of the castle plenishment survives; (fn. 125) it includes 186 pallets, 107 spears, 39 lances, 15 ballistae, 2 engines, 7 'acketouns, old and weak,' 1 large vat for brewing, and a considerable amount of domestic furniture.
The 15th century, for many English trading ports a period of advance, was for Liverpool a period of retrogression—in population, prosperity, and political freedom. The process of decay does not perhaps become evident until the reign of Henry VI; but already, before that date, the causes which were to contribute to it were making their appearance: namely, the weakness of the Crown, and the turbulence of the uncontrolled nobility. In 1406 (fn. 126) Sir John Stanley obtained licence to fortify a house in Liverpool. This was the Tower, at the bottom of Water Street, which remained in the possession of the house of Stanley until the Commonwealth. This is the first appearance in the borough of a family which from that time onward was to play a mightily important part in its history. The reason for it was that, having acquired the Isle of Man as a result of the forfeiture of the Percies after the battle of Shrewsbury, Stanley needed a base for communications with his new dominion. The Tower seems to have been, at any rate occasionally, used as a residence by the family; it was frequently occupied by troops. Thus the town was burdened by the presence of a second feudal fortress, only a bowshot from the original castle.
By the accession of Henry IV, which united the duchy of Lancaster to the Crown, Liverpool again came under direct royal control. It might have been expected that this would redound to the advantage of the borough, but the reverse was the case. The lease of the farm of the borough of 1393 was, it is true, confirmed by Henry IV; (fn. 127) but only for the remainder of its term, which expired in 1410. Immediately on its expiration serious trouble began. From an interesting memorandum inscribed on the back of the confirmation (fn. 128) it appears that the burgesses had resolved to apply not only for a renewal, but also for a supplementary charter, conveying to them new powers, in particular the right to hold courts under the Statute of Merchants and the right to make arrests for debt. Henry V did actually grant a charter (fn. 129) in the first year of his reign, probably as a result of this application; but it was merely a confirmation of the previous charters, and its sole advantage was that by disregarding the charter of Richard II it restored to the burgess body the right of prohibiting non-members of the gild to trade in the town. But it was over the renewal of the lease that the chief difficulties arose. It appears from the memorandum already referred to that the mayor and leading burgesses had to face opposition on the part of a section of the inhabitants described as 'those that hold of the king in Liverpool,' and, in order to frighten these recusants into line, thought of obtaining a privy seal ordering them all to appear before the king's council in London, unless they came to an agreement with the mayor. 'Those that held land of the king' can only have been the tenants in the recent inclosure in Salthouse Moor. It has already been suggested that these tenants had been separately governed up till 1393, when the great lease put them under the control of the burgess body. If they had been since that date forced to pay 'scot and lot,' to bear their share of burgess burdens without being admitted to burgess privileges, it is easy to understand why they should object to a renewal of the lease, and should prefer to return to the state of things before 1393. It is probably due to their opposition that the lease was not renewed in all its amplitude. No lease at all, indeed, survives for the period 1411–21. But such evidence as exists goes to show that the burgesses obtained a partial farm consisting of the market tolls, ferry and burgage-rents; the perquisites of courts and the mills, together with other miscellaneous rights, being reserved by the Crown and administered by royal agents, who now reappeared in the borough for the first time since 1393, or perhaps since 1357. The rent paid by the burgesses seems to have been £22 17s. 6d. (fn. 130)
But trouble at once resulted from this arrangement. In 1413 (fn. 131) the royal agents do not appear to have been able to collect any money at all; and in the following years they got only £25 to £26, including the burgesses' payments, in place of the £38 paid under the old lease. There is no entry at all in their accounts for perquisites of courts; the only moneys they were able to get over and above the 'rent and farms' which represent the burgesses' payment was a payment for mills, generally largely swallowed up in repairs. The explanation of this curious state of affairs is to be found in an interesting petition sent by the burgesses to the House of Commons in 1415, (fn. 132) in which they ask for protection against the 'officers and servants' of the king, who, 'since the confirmation (of 1413) and not before … have come, usurped and held certain courts' in the borough, in defiance of the terms of all the burghal charters, and of the king's own confirmation. By right of the grant of sac and soc contained in these charters, the burgesses claimed to 'have at all times had and continued a court' and to 'have taken and received the perquisites of the said court with all the profits belonging thereto.' The assertion that the king had no claim to the profits of burghal justice is directly contradicted by the whole preceding history of the borough: it was only since 1357 that the burgesses had taken these profits, and then only in virtue of a special grant in the lease. But the episode is a striking illustration of the difficulty of regaining rights once conveyed by lease. One right included in the lease of 1393 was not even claimed by the Crown, being forgotten on both sides. This was the control of the waste, which from this time remained burghal property.
It is not known what was the result of the petition to Parliament, which was referred to the king's council. But the burgesses continued to resist the royal agents, and to hold the courts themselves; and apparently they also quarrelled with the Crown over some question of tolls—possibly customs duties such as the prisage on wine, which in later leases the Crown is careful to define as not being covered by the lease. At length in 1420 (fn. 133) the steward of West Derby Hundred was ordered to summon all the mayors and bailiffs of Liverpool for the preceding seven years to appear before the Exchequer Court of the duchy at Lancaster 'to render us account for the time they have held our courts at Liverpool … and for the tolls and other profits levied by them in the meantime.' This summons, however, had no better result. In the next year (1421) Henry V found it necessary to grant a lease (fn. 134) of the whole farm, without limitation, for a year, pending an inquiry into the terms on which it ought to be held. The rent paid was £23; that is, 2s. 6d. more than the burgesses had been paying for their partial farm, and £15 less than they had paid up till 1410. Before this inquiry could be completed Henry V had died, and during the minority of his son it was not to be expected that rights would be enforced which the vigorous father had failed to defend. The burgesses continued to hold a lease, at the slightly increased figure of £23 6s. 8d., until 1449. (fn. 135) Thus the conflict with the Crown had ended in a burghal victory; the burgesses were left in possession of several royal rights, above all the control of the waste and the supremacy of the Borough Court over all the inhabitants.
In the meanwhile, however, the disorder and turbulence of the district had been increasing. In 1424 a violent feud broke out between Thomas Stanley and Sir Richard Molyneux. (fn. 136) Ralph Radcliffe and James Holt, justices of the peace for Lancashire, were sent by the sheriff to keep order. They found Stanley entrenched in his father's tower in Liverpool, with about 2,000 men, waiting for the attack of Sir Richard Molyneux, who was advancing from West Derby with 1,000 men or more in battle array. The two protagonists were both arrested by the sheriff, and forced to withdraw, Stanley to Kenilworth, and Molyneux to Windsor. Record of this episode, which nearly made the streets of the borough the scene of a pitched battle, survives because the period of full anarchy was not yet begun. The episodes of the age of the war are left unrecorded. (fn. 137)
In February 1421–2 Sir Richard Molyneux obtained a grant of the constableship of Liverpool Castle, together with the stewardship of West Derby and Salford, and the forestership of Toxteth, Croxteth, and Simonswood. (fn. 138) In 1440–1 the offices were renewed for the lives of Sir Richard and his son, and five years later they were made hereditary. (fn. 139) In 1442 the castle was further fortified by the erection of the south-east tower. (fn. 140) The cost of the addition was £46 13s. 10¼d. The stone was obtained from Toxteth Park, the wood from the royal forest, now controlled by Molyneux, and the money from the Duchy Exchequer. Throughout the period the expenditure in repairs of the castle was large and constant. (fn. 141) The effect of the establishment of the Stanleys in the tower, and of the Molyneuxes in the castle, was to leave the borough very much at the mercy of the two great noble houses entrenched in their midst, especially at a period when the Crown was perfectly incapable of maintaining order. Simultaneously, the prosperity of the borough steadily diminished, (fn. 142) and it was not till the beginning of the 17th century that it again stood on the level to which it had attained at the beginning of the 15th, either in population or in trade.
The decay is most strikingly demonstrated in the history of the lease. The last of the continuous series of burgess leases which followed the quarrel with the Crown expired in 1449, and apparently the burgesses found themselves unable to offer to continue it. A royal agent, Edmund Crosse, (fn. 143) of the local family already noticed, appears; but could only collect a little less than £19 in 1450, and £15 14s. in 1452, as compared with even the reduced rent of £23 6s. 8d. long paid by the burgesses. The most striking decline is in the market-tolls, which in 1450 yield only £2, though in 1327 they had yielded £10, and in 1346 much more. The failure of Crosse to produce increased revenues enabled the burgesses to get a new farm in 1454 (fn. 144) at the low rent of £17 6s. 8d., but they were 5s. in arrears on the first year, though they had never been in arrears when they had to pay £38. In 1461 Edmund Crosse again rendered account (fn. 145) : the town was at farm, whether held by himself or by the burgess body it is not possible to say. But it was a 'new farm,' and the rent was only £14. During the period of this lease the Crown, disregarding its terms, made a special grant of one of the mills (fn. 146) and of one of the two ferry-rights, (fn. 147) apparently with the desire of increasing the yield. The burgesses held a lease at £14 from 1466 to 1471; but for the last two years of the period no account was rendered. The civil war had broken out afresh after Warwick's insurrection, and the burgesses were either suffering from its effects, or seized the opportunity to withhold payment. When Edward IV was again safely established on his throne, he did his best to exact arrears for these two years; but never succeeded in getting from the poverty-stricken burgesses more than £9 of the £28 due from them. (fn. 148) He did not renew their tenure, but granted a lease, this time unquestionably a personal lease, to Edmund Crosse (1472) at £14 2s. (fn. 149) The burgesses never regained the lease. But even Crosse was unable to pay so modest a figure. Three years later (1475) his son, on having the lease renewed, (fn. 150) got the extra 2s. knocked off again, and obtained also a concession of the two rural mills of Ackers and Wavertree, in addition to the burghal mills. But this was not enough. In the next year (1476) he obtained a revised lease, (fn. 151) by which the rent was reduced to £11. This represents probably the lowest ebb of Liverpool prosperity. When, in 1488, the lease passed out of the hands of the Crosses and was granted to David Griffith, (fn. 152) the rent was raised to £14; this was increased to £14 6s. 8d. in 1528, (fn. 153) and at that figure it remained. Evidence is lacking as to the trade of the port during this period; but its absence is in itself significant. And indeed it is needless to ask for more striking evidence of the decay of the borough than that afforded by the leases of the farm. At the same time the very misery of the place, removing it from all envy, saved to it some valuable privileges. (fn. 154) The control of the burgess body over the waste, their right to conduct their own courts, and the extension of their governmental authority over the non-burgess inhabitants, should probably be regarded as having been established by usage in this period of helplessness and poverty.
It is with the Tudor period that the material for Liverpool history begins to be abundant. To the regular records of the borough, which begin in 1555, there is prefixed a collection of 'elder precedences,' some of them dating from 1525; and in addition, the national or duchy muniments provide ampler material than before. But the reign of Henry VII, the period of transition, is still very scantily supplied. Substantially all that is known of this period is that in 1488 Henry VII gave a lease of the farm to David Griffith, (fn. 155) in whose family it remained till 1537 (fn. 156) at the increased rent of £14; that in 1492 he empowered Thomas Fazakerley (fn. 157) to form a fishing station on the shore of the waste, between Toxteth Park and the Pool; that in 1498 the burgesses were summoned to a Quo Warranto (fn. 158) plea which does not seem to have been heard; and that in 1486 he made to one Richard Cook (fn. 159) a grant of ferry at £3 per annum, and for seven years, in place of a grant for life and without rent, which had been made two years before by Richard III. (fn. 160)
In the first half of the 16th century Liverpool seems to have begun slowly to emerge from the profound depression of the previous period, though even in the second half she is still described as a 'decayed town.' Perhaps the revival was partly due to the renewed use of the port, under Henry VIII, for transport to Ireland. Skeffington's army in 1534 shipped from Chester and Liverpool; (fn. 161) and a memorial of 1537 for the instruction of the king states that the army in Ireland 'must be vitelid with bere, biskett, flowre, butter, chease, and fleshe out of Chestre, Lirpole, Northwales and Southwales and Bristow.' (fn. 162) Some of the bullion required by the Irish army was also exported through Liverpool. (fn. 163) Probably the Irish trade of the port revived as a consequence. Leland, in a brief note on Liverpool, (fn. 164) says that 'Irish merchants come much thither, as to a good haven … At Liverpool is small custom paid that causeth merchants to resort. Good merchandize at Liverpool; and much Irish yarn, that Manchester men do buy there.' Thus already Liverpool was importing raw material for the nascent industries of Lancashire, and exporting the finished product. (fn. 165) We hear of one Liverpool merchant (fn. 166) trading with Drogheda, who in 1538 had for sale 12 lb. of London silks, and 12 pieces of kerseys, white, green and blue; three of the latter sold for £15 12s. But the trade of the reviving port extended beyond home waters. Edmund Gee of Chester and Liverpool, who is spoken of as the 'chief man and head merchant' of Liverpool, (fn. 167) persuaded a Spaniard, Lope de Rivera, to import into Liverpool large quantities of wine; (fn. 168) in 1534 the deputy-butler for Lancashire complains that William Collinges has imported 18 tuns of wine into Liverpool without paying prisage; (fn. 169) while in 1545 we hear of a Biscayan ship 'stayed at Liverpoole.' (fn. 170) When the embitterment of the Reformation struggle led English traders to prey upon Spanish ships, Liverpool sailors seem to have taken some part in these piratical adventures: in 1555 Inigo de Baldram, a Spaniard, complained to the Privy Council that he had been robbed by 'pirates of Lierpole and Chester.' (fn. 171) But the Spanish trade can only have been of the smallest proportions; even that with Ireland, the staple of Liverpool traffic, was humble enough.
Within the borough a modest development can be traced. In 1516 Oldhall Street was, by agreement with William Moore of the Oldhall, made an open road to the fields. (fn. 172) From 1524 a deed survives (fn. 173) in which the burgesses granted to Sir William Molyneux at a rental of 6s. a few roods of waste land beside the Moor Green, for the erection of a tithebarn to hold the tithes of Walton Church, which belonged to the Molyneux family. Moor Street now becomes Tithebarn Street. The importance of this deed is that it shows the burgesses acting as owners of the waste; and this is still more clearly exhibited in a borough rental of 1523, (fn. 174) prefixed to the Municipal Records, in which eight tenants pay among them 7s. 5d. for patches of common. A rental of the king's lands in Liverpool (fn. 175) dating from 1539 yields further interesting particulars. The total value was £10 1s. 4d., which was, of course, included in the lease of the farm. It is significant that only 3¾ burgages are enumerated; which appears to indicate that the burgage as a distinctive holding was passing out of use. Twenty-six burgages were included among the endowments of the four chantries in 1546. (fn. 176)
The early years of the century saw the establishment of the last of the chantries, that of the priest John Crosse, who provided that the chaplain should also teach a school. (fn. 177) His will contains also a bequest to the 'mayor and his brethren with the burgesses' of the 'new [house] called our Ladie house to kepe their courtes and such busynes as they shall thynke most expedient.' Thus by one act the borough became possessed of a school and a town hall.
The period, however, witnessed a number of disputes between the burgesses and the Crown or the lessees of the farm. In 1514 (David Griffith with his wife and son being then the lessees) (fn. 178) a commission (fn. 179) was appointed by the Crown 'on the behalf of our farmer of our toll within our said town of Liverpool' to inquire whether 'the Mayor and Burgesses … for their own singular lucre and advantage now of late have made many and divers foreign men not resident nor abiding in the said town to be burgesses of the same town to the intent to defraud us and our right of toll there.' The result of this inquiry (which was probably due to dissatisfaction with the yield of the farm) is not known. But it shows the burgesses trying to recoup themselves for the loss of the farm by taking payments for the admission of non-burgesses to that exemption from dues which was their chartered privilege. In 1528 (fn. 180) another commission was appointed to 'survey search and examine the concealments and subtraction of all and every such tolls customs and forfeitures as to us rightfully should belong … of any goods … conveyed to or from our port of Liverpool.' In the next year a new cause of quarrel appears. Thirteen men had been working a ferry from Liverpool to Runcorn. This ferry-right the lessee, Henry Ackers, claimed to be covered by the farm; and as a result of his complaint to the Crown, the mayor was ordered (fn. 181) to put an end to this illegal ferry. The order seems to have been neglected, for in the next year Ackers petitioned the Chancellor of the Duchy for redress. (fn. 182) The dispute was settled by the lessee granting a sub-lease (fn. 183) to the burgess body, whereby they undertook to collect all the customs, tolls, and ferry-dues, and pay half of the total proceeds and £10. The royal rents of £10 and the mills (separately leased at 50s.) (fn. 184) were excluded from this sub-lease; and as the sub-lease must have yielded to the lessor at least £20, his income from the town must have amounted to over £32, yielding him a handsome profit after he had paid his £14 6s. 8d. to the Crown. Incidentally these figures show that the town was regaining much of its prosperity, and approximating to the conditions of 1394, when the rent was £38; though it should be remembered that the value of money had in the meantime materially declined.
Of the effects of the first stages of the Reformation there is little to record. The only monastic property connected with the borough was the house and barn in Water Street and the ferryright over the Mersey, which belonged to the Priors of Birkenhead, and passed with the manor of Birkenhead to Ralph Worsley. But the later confiscation of the chantries affected Liverpool deeply. There were now four chantries in the chapel of St. Nicholas; their lands in 1546 had been worth £21 11s. 3d., (fn. 185) paying in chief rents to the king 10s. 3d. (fn. 186) The lands of two of these chantries—those of the High Altar and of St. John—were sold, though the priests attached to them seem to have remained resident in the town. (fn. 187) Among the purchasers (fn. 188) were many of the burgesses of Liverpool, who were thus to some extent committed to support of the Reformation. The lands of the chantries of St. Nicholas and St. Katherine remained in the hands of the Crown, and their revenues were respectively devoted to the maintenance of a priest for the Liverpool chapel and of a schoolmaster for the parish of Walton, (fn. 189) the pre-suppression chantry priests remaining to perform these functions. (fn. 190) In 1565 the administration of these lands seems to have been transferred from the Duchy officers to the mayor and burgesses, (fn. 191) who added further revenues raised among themselves, (fn. 192) and henceforth controlled the appointment both of the priest and of the schoolmaster of the town.
Difference of opinion on the religious question may have helped to precipitate a serious quarrel between the borough and the lessee of the farm. This had been since 1537 in the hands of Sir William Molyneux (fn. 193) and his son Sir Richard, who however had continued the arrangement of their predecessors whereby the burgesses administered the various powers and collected the dues, (fn. 194) retaining half of them on payment of £10 per annum. In 1552 a mysterious lease was issued by Edward VI to one James Bedyll. (fn. 195) It never took effect, but it may have been intended as an attack by the Protestant court upon the Roman Catholic Molyneuxes. If we suppose the burgesses to have been concerned in obtaining this lease, the quarrel with Molyneux which broke out immediately on the accession of Mary is easier to understand. Molyneux obtained a renewal (fn. 196) of his lease, though his previous lease was still unexpired, and, the sub-lease to the burgesses having expired, (fn. 197) he put in his own officers to collect the dues and hold the portmoot. The burgesses on their side obtained a confirmation of their charters, (fn. 198) though, having apparently overlooked the charter of Henry V, (fn. 199) it was the less favourable charter of Richard II of which they obtained a renewal. They seem to have trusted to this to justify their claim to collect the dues and hold the portmoot, which they proceeded to do in spite of the lessee, even throwing his agents into prison. (fn. 200) The question was tried before the Chancery Court of the Duchy (fn. 201) which gave its award on every point in favour of the lessees, awarding them 'all and singular tolls and other profits in any wise appertaining to the said town,' whether paid by freemen or by strangers, and also definitely declaring that the lessee had the right to 'keep courts within the said town . . after such sort … as the courts . . have been used to be kept,' and that suit at these courts must be rendered by all inhabitants. (fn. 202) This was a serious blow to the burgesses; and, while space does not permit of an examination of the question, it seems clear that the burgesses were deprived of some rights which justly belonged to them. (fn. 203) Two years later, on the intercession of Lord Strange and the attorney of the Duchy court, the quarrel was compromised by the renewal to the burgesses of the old sub-lease, which seems to have been continued throughout the remainder of the century. (fn. 204)
The municipal records from 1555 enable a clear account to be given of the mode of government to which the burgesses had now attained. At an assembly of burgesses held on St. Luke's Day, 18 October, a mayor and one bailiff were elected, a second bailiff being nominated by the new mayor at the same meeting. (fn. 205) Other assemblies were held as occasion demanded. (fn. 206) Attendance was compulsory on all burgesses on penalty of a fine of 1s. (fn. 207) The assembly elected freemen, (fn. 208) and occasionally expelled them from the liberties. (fn. 209) Distinct from the assembly was the Portmoot and Great Leet, held twice yearly. The Great Portmoot immediately followed the annual assembly, and elected all the minor officers, among whom may be named the serjeant at mace, two churchwardens, two leve-lookers, two moss-reeves, four mise-cessors and prysors, two stewards of the common-hall, a water-bailiff, a hayward, two aletesters. (fn. 210) The portmoot was the lineal descendant of the old manorial court, and as such the right to hold it was claimed by the lessee of the farm. When this right was exercised, as in 1555, portmoot and assembly were at war, (fn. 211) but normally almost all business was indifferently transacted at either. At the portmoot presentments of breaches of burghal custom were made by a jury of twenty-four or twelve burgesses impanelled by the bailiffs; they also 'appointed and set down' all sorts of orders or by-laws, indistinguishable in character from those passed by the assembly of burgesses, and including many affairs not properly coming within the sphere of a manorial court, but rather belonging to the sphere of the gildmerchant.
The mayor exercised supreme control over the whole executive business of the borough, the bailiffs and other officers being under his orders. He was always either a leading merchant, or a country gentleman of the neighbourhood. He presided over the ordinary sessions of the borough court, now called the mayor's court, which does not seem to have been claimed by the lessees. With him acted 'the Mayor's Brethren' or aldermen, who were not popularly elected, but seem to have consisted of the ex-mayors. It is clear that this system of government was breaking down; and it was to undergo great changes in the next period.
In the second half of the century it becomes possible to trace in more detail the movement of population and the development of trade. In 1565 there were 144 names on the burgess rolls, (fn. 212) but some of these were non-resident, and the number of resident burgesses was probably about 120. In the same year the number of householders is given as 138. (fn. 213) In 1572, (fn. 214) of 159 names in the burgess roll about 130 may have been resident, while in 1589 (fn. 215) there were 190 names on the roll, of whom over 150 were resident. The number of houses rated for a subsidy in 1581 was 202. (fn. 216) Including therefore resident burgesses and other non-burgess inhabitants, we may estimate the population at about 700 or 800 in the middle of the century, increasing slowly to about 1,000 or 1,200 at its close. In other words, the 16th century only succeeded in bringing the population back to the figure it had already attained in 1346. The explanation of this slow growth is to be found largely in the ravages of the plague which repeatedly attacked Liverpool during the period. The visitation of 1558 was so virulent that the fair was dropped in that year, no markets were held for three months, and over 240 persons, or one-fourth of the population, are said to have died. (fn. 217)
The progress of shipping was equally unsatisfactory. A return of 1557 (fn. 218) shows that there were in the port one ship of 100 tons and one of 50 tons, (fn. 219) together with seven smaller vessels, while four vessels of between 10 and 30 tons were at sea; there were 200 sailors connected with the port. In 1565 (fn. 220) there were fifteen vessels, three of which belonged to Wallasey; the largest was of 40 tons burthen, and the number of seamen was about eighty. In 1586 (fn. 221) sixteen vessels can be counted in the entrances and clearances for a single month; probably the list is not exhaustive. The character of the port's trade continued unchanged. Manchester, Bolton, and Blackburn men frequented the market to buy Irish yarns, (fn. 222) and sell 'Manchester cottons' (coatings); (fn. 223) the outgoing trade was mainly to Ireland, and consisted of mixed cargoes of coals, woollens, Sheffield knives, leather goods, and small wares. The return cargoes from Dublin, Drogheda, and Carlingford were invariably of yarns, hides, and sheep skins or fells. The foreign trade was of small proportions, and seems mainly to have been conducted by foreigners. But we hear of a Lancashire family sending to Liverpool to buy '44 quarts of sack, 85 quarts of claret, 4 cwt. of iron, 4 lb. of pitch.' (fn. 224) French and Spanish ships were sometimes brought as prizes into Liverpool, but not by Liverpool captains. (fn. 225) Piracy was rampant, and government had much ado to keep it in check even in the Irish Sea. (fn. 226) There were, it is true, one or two merchants in Liverpool who traded with Spain; (fn. 227) one of these spent twelve months in a Spanish prison in 1585–6, and on returning was the first to give details of the preparation of the Armada. (fn. 228) But the trade with Spain was on so small a scale that when the monopolist Spanish trading company was established in 1578, (fn. 229) the Liverpool merchants were contemptuously excused from submission to its regulations on the ground that they were only engaged in small retail trade. Even from the payment of tonnage and poundage duties Liverpool was exempt until the reign of Elizabeth, (fn. 230) no doubt because the yield would be so small as not to be worth the cost of collection.
It was probably for this reason that during the reign of Elizabeth the central government treated Liverpool as part of a large customs district which included the ports of North Wales, and had its centre at Chester. Orders of various sorts were frequently transmitted to the Mayor of Liverpool through the Mayor of Chester; (fn. 231) in one writ Liverpool and Chester were treated as a single port, (fn. 232) while in another Liverpool was actually catalogued with Chester and 'Ilbrye' as one of the ports of Cheshire. (fn. 233) This was made the basis of a claim on the part of Chester to superiority over Liverpool. This was not merely due to the claim of the Mayor of Chester to be viceadmiral of Lancashire and Cheshire; (fn. 234) Chester claimed that Liverpool was only 'a creek within its port,' and that all ships entering the Mersey should pay dues through Chester. This claim, first formally advanced in 1565, (fn. 235) was, in spite of backing from London, entirely repudiated by the Liverpool burgesses. (fn. 236) They petitioned the Crown for protection; and eventually a commission sent down to investigate reported in Liverpool's favour. (fn. 237) When Chester in 1578 made the more limited claim of supremacy over the Cheshire shore of the Mersey, (fn. 238) equal vigour was shown in repudiation. The question was not settled during this century; it reappeared in the early part of the 17th century, (fn. 239) and was not disposed of till in 1658 (fn. 240) an award was given in favour of Liverpool by the Surveyor-General of Customs—an award which was later confirmed by the first Restoration SurveyorGeneral in 1660. (fn. 241)
The administrative arrangement which gave to Chester the pretext for this claim had been dictated largely by convenience in organizing the transport of troops to Ireland, which went on with great vigour throughout the period. In 1573 Essex and part of his army were transported from Liverpool, (fn. 242) and substantial forces also left the port in 1565, (fn. 243) 1574, (fn. 244) 1579, (fn. 245) 1588, (fn. 246) 1595, (fn. 247) and 1596. (fn. 248) The transport of these troops was not unprofitable; 2s. a head was allowed for food during the passage, (fn. 249) and the cost of transport was more than £1 a head, (fn. 250) while during the stay of the troops in Liverpool, which lasted sometimes for a long period, (fn. 251) 3d. a head was allowed for each meal, and 4d. a day for a horse's fodder. (fn. 252) But the visits of the troops were troublesome. Quarters and food had to be compulsorily provided. Even when they were promptly paid for, it must have been difficult for a town of less than 200 houses to provide for large forces; but the payment was often long delayed. (fn. 253) Moreover the troops were often riotous. The town records give a vivid account of an affray which broke out among Lord Essex' men in 1573, (fn. 254) and which brought out all the burgesses in battle array on the heath, while in 1581 there was a formidable mutiny (fn. 255) which was only suppressed after sharp and exemplary punishment. A third inconvenience arose from the fact that the shipping of the port was often withdrawn from trade and detained for long periods in harbour, waiting for troops which never came. In 1593 it was only the intercession of Lord Derby (fn. 256) for 'the poor masters and owners of vessels stayed at Liverpool' which obtained their release, though no troops were nearly ready.
This was by no means the only occasion on which Lord Derby came to the aid of the burgesses. He was almost officially described by Walsingham as the 'patron of the poor town of Liverpool,' (fn. 257) and was appealed to on every occasion. One of the seats in Parliament (to which Liverpool had resumed the right of election in 1545), (fn. 258) was always reserved for his nominee; the other was usually placed at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Duchy, from whom, in all probability, Francis Bacon received the nomination which made him member for Liverpool in the session of 1588–9. (fn. 259) When in 1562 (fn. 260) the burgesses celebrated their reconciliation with Sir Richard Molyneux by nominating him to the seat usually reserved for the Chancellor, that official was so angry that he made a separate return, so that two sets of Liverpool members appear in the lists for that year, (fn. 261) and it was only the protection of Lord Derby which reassured the town against his direful threats. Nothing can exceed the pitiful submissiveness of the burgesses when they have the misfortune to offend Lord Derby, (fn. 262) nor the lavish enthusiasm with which they welcomed him in his visits to the town. (fn. 263) He was their one protector against aggressive lessees, greedy rival towns, crushing monopolist companies or angry chancellors.
It follows from the use they made of their Parliamentary privilege that the burgesses took small interest in the progress of national affairs. They lit bonfires on the Queen's birthdays, (fn. 264) but the only reflection of the excitement of 1588 which their records contain is the note of the erection of one gun on the Nabbe at the entrance to the Pool. (fn. 265) Even the change of religious opinion is but faintly reflected in the records. As time went on they became more and more Protestant; their patron, the fourth Earl of Derby, was one of the keenest of Protestants by profession, offering the use of the Tower for the safe-keeping of recusants. (fn. 266) Towards the end of the century we find the burgesses ordering the closing of all ale-houses on the 'Sabbath' day, demanding a sermon or homily every Sunday, and engaging, in addition to the 'minister,' a zealous and faithful preacher at £4 per annum. (fn. 267)
For the burgesses indeed, the development of their own institutions (which now entered on a striking new phase) was more vital than political or religious events. Probably it was the series of disputes into which they had been drawn, and which had so seriously threatened their liberties, that led to the development of an executive committee within the assembly of burgesses, hitherto supreme. (fn. 268) The assembly was unsuited to carry on these struggles, (fn. 269) and after several experiments with councils elected for a limited period, which all failed through the jealousy of the burgess body, in 1580 a permanent self-renewing council of twenty-four ordinary members with twelve aldermen was appointed. (fn. 270) Though it was to go through some vicissitudes, this body remained in control of the borough till 1835.
The records of this period present a very vivid picture of the social condition and customs of the borough. Space does not permit of any summary of these, but something must be said on the methods of conducting trade. (fn. 271) The regulation of trade was in the hands of the mayor and aldermen, acting under by-laws laid down by the portmoot or the assembly of burgesses. In the weekly market for local traffic no outsider was allowed to purchase corn until the wants of the burgesses had been satisfied. Forestalling and regrating were severely punished. Ingate and outgate dues were charged for goods brought to or from the market; from these the burgesses and also the inhabitants of Altcar and Prescot were free. The masters of ships bringing cargoes into the Mersey, after paying anchorage dues, had to obtain permission from the mayor before offering their goods for sale. First the mayor determined whether he should offer to take the whole cargo as a 'town's bargain.' If he decided to do this, a sum was offered which had been estimated by the merchant prysors. If the importer refused this offer he must either leave the port or agree with the mayor as to the sum he must pay to 'make his best market,' i.e. to offer his goods for sale in open market. It was a system of high protection for the burgesses and minute regulation, so vexatious and hampering to trade that it was already breaking down by the end of the century.
The first three decades of the 17th century saw the prosperity and the burghal liberties of Liverpool safely re-established. The port was largely used for transport to Ireland during the reigns of James I and Charles I (fn. 272) —more largely now than Chester. In 1625 five transports containing 550 men were wrecked on the coast of Holyhead on the way to Carrickfergus, and less than two hundred men were saved. (fn. 273) The loss of five vessels was a serious blow to a small port, and the mayor feared that 'unless the king compassionates the town, it will be the utter overthrow of that corporation.' Pirates, too, still haunted the Irish seas; frequent levies of money had to be raised for dealing with them, (fn. 274) and even under the firm rule of Wentworth in Ireland a 'Biscayan Spanish rogue' took up his station off Dublin Bay, 'outbraved the two kingdoms,' and captured two Liverpool vessels, one of which had cargo to the value of £3,000, while another bore 'a trunk of damask' belonging to the lord-lieutenant himself. (fn. 275) Nevertheless the prosperity of the port steadily increased, and gained especially from the development of Irish industries under Wentworth. In 1618 the number of vessels in the port (fn. 276) was twenty-four, with a total tonnage of 462. In the next year Chester had to represent to the Crown that it possessed no ships, trading only in small barks. (fn. 277) The superior rival of the previous century had been distanced; and this being so, it is not surprising that Liverpool should have repudiated, with even greater vigour than in 1565, the claim of Chester to supremacy, which was revived in 1619. (fn. 278) To retain a share of the trade in Irish yarn, Chester had to make special treaties with Irish exporters; (fn. 279) but even then Liverpool more than held its own. (fn. 280) Foreign trade as well as Irish trade was increasing, (fn. 281) especially with Spain; a part of the salt of Cheshire, hitherto almost monopolized by Chester, came to supply outgoing cargoes; malt was brought from Tewkesbury to Liverpool by the Severn and the sea; (fn. 282) and there is even a record of one cargo of tobacco (fn. 283) brought direct from the Indies—the beginning of Liverpool's American trade.
This growing prosperity is reflected in a growth of population, despite a visitation of the plague in 1609. (fn. 284) The number of freemen rose from 190 in 1589 to 256 in 1620 and to 450 in 1645. (fn. 285) Though some of these were non-resident, there was also a considerable non-freeman population in the borough, and the population on the eve of the Civil War may, perhaps, be estimated at 2,000 or 2,500. At the same time the corporate revenue undergoes a remarkable expansion. In 1603 it was £55; in 1650 it had risen to £273. (fn. 286)
The borough was comparatively little troubled during the early years of the century by the difficulties by which it had been faced in the preceding age. In 1617 the copyholders of West Derby, instigated by Sir Richard Molyneux, raised a claim to a part of the Liverpool waste, (fn. 287) now administered by the borough; but the mayor and bailiffs were instructed to 'make known unto them … that time out of mind the liberties which we claim have belonged to our town, and that we have evidence to maintain the same,' and the question was not pressed. In 1620 there was an obscure dispute with Sir Richard over the levying of prisage duties on wine, (fn. 288) the issue of which is unknown. Several times during the period the borough authorities came in conflict with the Duchy courts on the question of the competence of the borough courts to try all cases arising within the liberties, (fn. 289) a right which was vigorously and successfully maintained. But the questions which occupy most space in the records are internal disputes, especially concerning the powers and duties of the burghal officers. From 1633 to 1637 a fierce controversy raged with the town-clerk, (fn. 290) Robert Dobson, who, having paid £70 for his office, considered himself irremovable, and bore himself with intolerable insolence towards the mayor and bailiffs. This controversy eventually led to a dispute with the Chancery Court of the Duchy, to which Dobson tried to remove his case. There were disputes also with the bailiffs. The bailiffs of 1626 (fn. 291) were imprisoned in the Common Hall for refusing to carry out the instructions of the Town Council; the bailiffs of 1629 (fn. 292) brought an action against the corporation in the King's Bench, for which one of them was deprived of the freedom. Probably the cause of these disputes was the control exercised by the new Town Council over officials, who, before its establishment, had been accustomed to uncontrolled authority. During this period the Town Council seems to have remained on good terms with the body of burgesses; (fn. 293) partly because its meetings were open; partly because it appears to have been the practice for the bailiffs, elected on the annual election day, to become thereafter members of the council for life. (fn. 294) This gave to the burgesss-body some control over the membership of the council, and probably left few places to be filled up by the council itself.
But the most striking sign of the growing independence of the borough is to be seen in the use made of its privilege of electing to Parliament. Lord Derby still occasionally nominated one member, but the Chancellor of the Duchy lost his right; always one, and sometimes both, of the members were now genuinely elected by the borough, wages were paid to them, and care was taken that they earned them. In the elections all freemen took part, and, probably because the Town Council was so recently established and because national politics were beginning to be interesting, this power was never usurped from the freemen by the council. An illustration of the mode of treatment of their members by the burgesses may be quoted. In 1611 Mr. Brook (fn. 295) sent in a bill for £28 10s. for the wages of his attendance during the previous session. Of this he had already 'received in allowance and payments £14 5s. 7d., and so rested due to him £14 4s. 5d., which 4s. 5d. was deducted in regard of his stay in Chester about his own business four days, and so he was allowed £14 absolutely, provided he delivered first the New Charter.'
Mr. Brook did not produce a charter, and we are left to infer that his wages were not paid. This is one of a series of applications for a charter which occur at frequent intervals in the later years of the 16th century and the first quarter of the 17th, inspired by the sense of insecurity in their privileges to which the controversies of the previous fifty years had given rise. There survives a memorandum, (fn. 296) dating from about 1580, in which the Recorder gives it as his opinion that the borough had never in any of its charters been incorporated in express words, and that all its privileges must remain insecure until this was rectified. Applications in 1603, (fn. 297) 1611, (fn. 298) and 1617 (fn. 299) were unsuccessful; but at length in 1626 (fn. 300) a new charter was purchased from Charles I, then embarrassed by the war with Spain and by the quarrel with Parliament.
The charter of Charles I is the most important of the series, after that of Henry III. It definitely incorporated the borough; confirmed it in all the powers it exercised, whether enjoyed by grant or by usurpation; vested in the burgess body full powers of legislation not only for themselves but for all inhabitants of the borough; and granted, probably for the first time, (fn. 301) the right to hold a court under the Statute of Merchants. The charter did not even name the town council, which was thus left at the mercy of the burgess body; but in the next year the existing council was re-elected, and as there is no trace of any discussion of the question until the second half of the century, it would seem that no attack on the powers of the council was intended. The existence of the bench of aldermen is only incidentally recognized by the appointment of the senior alderman for the time being as a justice of the peace. The charter thus gave ground for a good deal of dispute, though none seems to have arisen. But it was an invaluable grant, for it secured the burgesses in the possession of all the vague rights which they had usurped since 1394, but which had been threatened since the Molyneuxes obtained possession of the lease of the farm; particularly the ownership of the waste and the sovereignty of the borough officers over the whole population of the borough. It left unsettled, however, several questions at issue between the borough and the lessees of the farm which had remained dormant since 1555.
It was fortunate that the charter had been obtained before 1628, for in that year Charles I sold Liverpool, (fn. 302) with some three hundred other manors, to trustees on behalf of the citizens of London, in acquittance of a number of loans. So long as the Molyneux lease lasted the Londoners' ownership of the lordship meant nothing beyond the right of receiving the £14 6s. 8d. of farm rent, which had to be at once paid over to the Crown, the sale having been made subject to an annual rent-charge of this amount. The lordship was therefore worthless to the Londoners; it was valuable only to Sir Richard Molyneux, who by buying it from them for £400 in 1636 (fn. 303) obtained in perpetuity and in freehold the rights he had previously enjoyed by lease, as well as any other rights that might be construed as coming under the lordship. This placed the burgesses more fully than ever at his mercy. In 1638 he commenced an action in the Court of Wards (fn. 304) to prohibit the burgesses from working an illicit ferry and mill which had somehow got into their possession. The burgesses, resisting, petitioned the Crown for a grant of the lease of the farm to themselves; (fn. 305) but this, although the king 'made a most gracious answer,' was obviously out of his power since the sale, and they found it necessary to come to an agreement, (fn. 306) whereby they were to pay Molyneux £20 per annum without prejudice to their rights. Before the question could be raised again, and before Molyneux could attempt to press home other claims, the Civil War had broken out, and the later stages of the dispute were postponed until after the Restoration.
The side which Liverpool was likely to take in the great struggle would not have been easy to predict from its action during the preceding years. On the whole the temper of the burgesses, in religious matters, seems to have been Puritan. Thus it was found necessary to have, in addition to the incumbent of the chapel, a 'preacher of the Word of God,' (fn. 307) who received £20 or £30 per annum together with 'a reasonable milk cow,' which was to be 'changed at the discretion of the Council;' and in 1629 the mayor petitioned the Bishop of Chester, Bridgeman, for permission to arrange 'once a month two sermons upon a week-day.' (fn. 308) The list of preachers arranged for the following year in accordance with the licence then obtained, is significant. It includes Kay, Vicar of Walton, who later became a Presbyterian, and Richard Mather, minister of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth Park, who was driven to America by Laud in 1636. Probably the presence in Toxteth of a little group of Puritan farmers, planted there by Sir Richard Molyneux when the park was brought under cultivation in 1604, (fn. 309) had considerable influence upon the Puritan temper of the borough.
On the other hand, the influence of the surrounding gentry was exercised almost entirely on the Royalist side. The Royalism of West Derby Hundred was even stronger than the Parliamentarianism of Salford Hundred, and the centre and support of it was the special patron of Liverpool, Lord Strange, who during the incapacity of his father, until he succeeded to the title in 1642, represented the house of Stanley. The only considerable family in the district which took the Parliamentarian side was that of the Moores, of Liverpool, (fn. 310) and, local as they were, they could not balance the Derby influence. Thus torn asunder, the borough followed an extremely vacillating course. To the Parliament of 1623 two Royalist members were returned. (fn. 311) In that of 1625 the Puritan, Edward Moore, was balanced by Lord Strange. (fn. 312) In the Petition of Right Parliament there were again two strong Royalist members. (fn. 313) Thus in the first period of the national controversy, the influence of the neighbouring gentry was able to outweigh the Puritan tendencies of the borough. But during the eleven years of personal government, the tide of opinion turned. On the first levy of ship-money in 1634, Liverpool was required to pay £15 as its share of the cost of a ship of 400 tons, to be raised by the maritime counties of Wales, by Cheshire, Lancashire, and Cumberland; (fn. 314) the same sum was assessed by a committee of mayors and sheriffs upon Carlisle, while Chester had to pay £100. The burden was a light enough one for a town which a little later raised without difficulty £160 to fight a single law-suit; (fn. 315) but there was keen opposition, (fn. 316) several burgesses declined to pay, and threatened the bailiffs with actions at law if they should attempt distraints; the Town Council had to resolve that the costs of such actions should be borne at the town's expense, but there were two members of the council itself who protested against this. In the next year John Moore, the regicide, was elected mayor, and on the second levy of ship-money there were similar difficulties. (fn. 317)
When the meeting of the Short Parliament ended the period of personal government, both of the Liverpool members were in the opposition; (fn. 318) while to the Long Parliament Liverpool returned the acrid Puritan, John Moore, along with Sir Richard Wynne, (fn. 319) who, though he had accompanied Charles I on his journey to Spain, was by no means a staunch Royalist: he voted against the attainder of Strafford, but he was a member of the deputation to present the Grand Remonstrance to the king. (fn. 320) It is tolerably clear that had the burgesses been left to themselves, without the influence of Lord Derby and others, Liverpool, like other ports, would have been enrolled on the Parliamentarian side.
When, on the outbreak of war, the Parliamentarian party in Lancashire began to organize their resistance against the vigorous action of Lord Strange, John Moore of Liverpool was the only gentleman of West Derby Hundred whom they could find to include in their list of deputy-lieutenants. Even he was apparently helpless in Liverpool, for he is found with the other Parliamentarian leaders at Manchester in the middle of 1642. (fn. 321) Liverpool, controlled by the Molyneux Castle and the Stanley Tower, was defenceless against the Royalist party. Lord Strange was able to seize the large stock of powder which lay in the town, (fn. 322) and to garrison both castle and tower. He was actively supported by the mayor, John Walker, (fn. 323) who received a royal letter of commendation for his action; but the presence of a considerable Parliamentarian party in the town is indicated by the note that the mayor had been threatened, perhaps by John Moore, with imprisonment and transportation from the country. (fn. 324) Colonel Edward Norris, of Speke, became governor, (fn. 325) and thirty barrels of gunpowder were sent into the town from Warrington. (fn. 326) Nothing, however, seems to have been done to strengthen the defence of the town. It remained under Royalist control so long as Lord Derby's strength was sufficient to hold the western half of the county. When, in the early months of 1643, his main force was called off for service in the midlands, the Parliamentarian forces from Manchester rapidly overran the western half of the county, and by May, Lathom House and Liverpool were the only Royalist strongholds left. Colonel Tyldesley, with the remnant of the Royalist forces, fell back upon Liverpool; (fn. 327) but he was hotly followed by Assheton with the Manchester Parliamentarians, (fn. 328) while a Parliamentarian ship entering the Mersey cut off retreat in that direction. (fn. 329) After two days' fighting Assheton had captured the whole line of Dale Street and also the chapel of St. Nicholas, in the tower of which guns were mounted which commanded the town. Tyldesley was forced to treat, asking for a free retreat to Wigan with arms and artillery. These terms were refused, and an assault completely routed the Royalists, who lost eighty dead and 300 prisoners, while the loss of the attacking force was only seven killed. (fn. 330) the date of this first siege is unknown, but it was probably at the end of May 1643.
The Parliamentarians, now masters of Liverpool, proceeded to make very effective use of their capture. Lieut.-Col. Venables was appointed governor, (fn. 331) with martial powers overriding the town council. On his recall, early in 1644, he was succeeded, as a result of a petition from the burgesses, by Colonel John Moore, (fn. 332) who remained in command until the town fell before Rupert. The German engineer Rosworm was brought from Manchester to reconstruct the fortifications, (fn. 333) which were, however, not very skilfully laid out. A ditch 36 ft. wide and 9 ft. deep was cut from the river, (fn. 334) north of the Old Hall, to the Pool. Behind it ran a high earthen rampart, which was broken by gates where it was crossed by Oldhall Street, Tithebarn Street, and Dale Street, each gate being protected by cannon. Earthworks with batteries guarded the line of the Pool, and a strong battery of eight guns was placed at the angle of the Pool, below the castle. In addition, a number of guns were placed on the castle. A regular garrison, consisting of a regiment of foot and a troop of horse, (fn. 335) was kept in the town; but in addition military service was required of the burgesses, for whose use 100 muskets, 100 bandoliers, and 100 rests were delivered to the mayor and aldermen, (fn. 336) a fine of 1s. being imposed on any burgess who failed to turn out for duty 'at the beating of the drum.' (fn. 337) During the period of military occupation the authority of the governor overrode that of the town council. He was present at its meetings, (fn. 338) and most of his officers were admitted to the freedom. John Moore seems to have been far from successful as a governor. Adam Martindale, who served as his chaplain, (fn. 339) gives a terrible picture of the governor's entourage, though he praises (fn. 340) the 'religious officers of the company' with whom he 'enjoyed sweet communion,' as they met 'every night at one another's quarters, by turnes, to read scriptures, to confer of good things, and to pray together.'
The functions which Liverpool had to perform were threefold. On land, the garrison had to hold a Royalist district in check, and to take part in the siege of Lathom House. In addition it had to keep in touch with the Parliamentarian forces in Cheshire, and be prepared to deal with movements of the Royalist garrison of Chester. On the sea the function of Liverpool was still more important. It was the 'only haven' (fn. 341) of the Parliamentarians on the west coast, and it therefore became the base of naval movements intended to prevent communication between Ormond, in Ireland, and the English Royalists. (fn. 342) For this purpose part of the fleet was stationed here as early as June 1643, (fn. 343) and five months later this force amounted to six men-of-war, (fn. 344) and Colonel Moore, Governor of Liverpool, became Vice-Admiral for Lancashire and Westmorland. (fn. 345) It was under the command of one Captain Danks or Dansk, (fn. 346) and though the prevalent north-west winds sometimes shut him into the Mersey, he was able very seriously to harass the Royalists, intercepting supplies (fn. 347) upon which the Irish Royalists were dependent, and preventing the transport of troops. Royalist vessels from Bristol, indeed, disputed with the Liverpool ships the command of the Irish Sea, (fn. 348) but not very effectively; the Puritan sailors of Bristol were half-hearted in the service, and one Bristol ship laden with arms and supplies for Chester deserted and sailed into the Mersey. (fn. 349) Ormond felt the position to be so serious for himself that he wrote to the Royalist forces in Cheshire, (fn. 350) 'earnestly recommending' them to attack Liverpool 'as soon as they possibly can,' and urging that 'no service to my apprehension can at once so much advantage this place (Dublin) and Chester, and make them so useful to each other.' The same urgent advice was given by Archbishop Williams, (fn. 351) in command at Conway. The capture of Liverpool was one of the immediate objectives of Byron's force of 3,000 Irish, which landed in Cheshire in November 1643, and on its arrival supplies were sent in to Liverpool, (fn. 352) and forces called up to its aid. (fn. 353) The defeat of Byron in January 1644 left the Liverpool garrison free to press the siege of Lathom (fn. 354) in conjunction with Assheton's forces from Bolton. But the straits of Lathom formed an additional reason for a vigorous blow from the Royalist side. Lord Derby was urgent (fn. 355) upon Prince Rupert to relieve Lathom. and to seize Liverpool, 'which your highness took notice of in the map the last evening I was with you, for there is not at this time fifty men in the garrison.'
Urged by these motives, the capture of Liverpool was one of the tasks which Rupert set himself on his northward march, in May and June, to the relief of Newcastle in York. His approach caused Moore to retreat hastily to Liverpool, while the garrison was reinforced by 400 men sent from Manchester; (fn. 356) the ships in the Mersey were drawn up in the port to assist in repelling the attack; (fn. 357) women, children, and suspects were removed from the town, (fn. 358) and all who remained 'were resolute to defend' the place.
It was on 9 June that Rupert, fresh from a brilliant success over the Parliamentarians, came down over the hill which overlooked and commanded the little town. 'A mere crow's nest,' he is said to have called it, 'which a parcel of boys might take.' (fn. 359) But two furious assaults of the kind which had carried all before them at Bolton were alike unsuccessful, (fn. 360) the loss to the besieging force being stated at 1,500. Rupert had then to throw up earthworks (fn. 361) and bring up his artillery, which during several days' cannonade cost 'a hundred barrels of munition, which,' says a correspondent of Lord Ormond, 'makes Prince Rupert march ill-provided.' (fn. 362) At length a night attack was led by Caryll, brother of Lord Molyneux, (fn. 363) whose local knowledge brought the surprise party through the fields on the north to the outhouses of the Old Hall, the family mansion of the governor of the town, which they reached at three o'clock in the morning. They found the ramparts deserted by the regular garrison, which had been drawn off by Colonel Moore during the night, and embarked with the military stores on the shipping in the Pool. (fn. 364) About 400 men of the garrison, however, still remained, and these offered a vigorous resistance. Street fighting went on for several hours; though there seems to have been some sort of surrender, 'Prince Rupert's men did slay almost all they met with, to the number of 360, and among others … some that had never borne arms, … yea, one poor blind man'; (fn. 365) Caryll Molyneux, according to Sir Edward Moore, the runaway Colonel's son, killing 'seven or eight poor men with his own hands.' (fn. 366) The remainder of the garrison surrendered at the High Cross. They were imprisoned in the tower and the chapel, while Rupert took up his quarters in the castle, and the town was given over to sack. The number of the killed is indicated by the fact that six months later every household had to provide a man to aid in 'better covering the dead bodies of our murthered neighbours' of the 'great company of our inhabitants murthered and slain by Prince Rupert's forces.' (fn. 367)
The capture of the town probably took place on 14 or 15 June; it is mentioned in the Mercurius Britannicus of 17 June. (fn. 368) Rupert remained in the castle till the 19th, (fn. 369) when he marched for Lathom. The intervening days were probably spent in drawing up proposals for the refortification of the town, which was intrusted to a Spanish engineer, de Gomme. His excellent plan survives, but was never carried out.
The defeat of Rupert at Marston Moor probably gave pause to these elaborate schemes. On his retreat he was expected to call at Liverpool, (fn. 370) but does not seem to have done so. Liverpool was now again, except Lathom, the only Royalist stronghold in Lancashire. (fn. 371) To garrison it Sir Robert Byron had been left with a large force of English and Irish troops; (fn. 372) there was also a considerable number of cattle within the walls, (fn. 373) while guns had been mounted on 'Worrall side' (probably near the modern New Brighton) to prevent the approach of Parliamentary ships. (fn. 374) To deal with Liverpool and Lathom 1,000 horse were detached by Lord Fairfax from the main army on 8 August to join the Lancashire Parliamentarian levies, (fn. 375) and the whole force was placed under the command of Sir John Meldrum. During August the Royalists were strong enough to keep the field, and there was a good deal of fighting between Liverpool and Lathom. But after 20 August, when the Royalists were severely defeated at Ormskirk, (fn. 376) it is probable that the formal siege of Liverpool began. Meldrum did not waste men on assaults, but sat down before the town and drew formal lines of entrenchment. (fn. 377) He was assisted by a fleet in the river under Colonel Moore, (fn. 378) probably the same with which he had escaped in June; and 'the sad inhabitants from both sides are deeply distressed.' The Royalist forces in the neighbourhood strained every nerve to effect a relief; a new force raised by Lord Derby had to be beaten back on 10 September; (fn. 379) the Chester garrison had to be strictly blockaded to prevent its sending relief; and on 17 September a force of 4,000 men was met by the Parliamentarians at Oswestry (fn. 380) marching to the relief of Liverpool. It was doubtless the value of Liverpool as a point of contact between Ireland and the northern Royalists which accounted for the importance attached to it. Well provisioned and strongly garrisoned, the town held out for nearly two months. In the last days of October fifty of the English soldiers in the garrison, fearing to share the fate threatened to the Irish, deserted, (fn. 381) driving with them into Meldrum's camp the greater part of the cattle in the town. On 1 November the remainder of the garrison mutinied, imprisoned their officers, and surrendered the town at discretion. (fn. 382) An attempt to imitate Moore's example by shipping supplies and ammunition in some vessels in the river was checked by the commander of the besieging force, who sent out rowing-boats to capture the ships.
During the remainder of the war Liverpool remained at peace, but for some years seems to have been used as one of the principal places of arms in the county. (fn. 383) Colonel Moore for a time resumed command; but his prestige was ruined by his behaviour during Rupert's siege; and though Meldrum exonerated him from blame, (fn. 384) the townsmen themselves felt that the town had been needlessly abandoned, and petitioned Parliament to inquire as to whose was the 'neglect or default.' (fn. 385) Moore left for Ireland, and was replaced by another governor. His family never recovered from the discredit into which he had brought it, or from the financial difficulties in which he involved himself. As a recompense for its services and sufferings the town obtained several important grants from the Commonwealth government; money for the relief of widows and orphans, (fn. 386) licence to cut timber from the Molyneux and Derby estates for the rebuilding of the town, (fn. 387) the abolition of the Molyneux tenancy of the lease, (fn. 388) and a grant of £10,000 worth of land, at first assigned from the estates of 'malignants,' in Galway, (fn. 389) which, however, turned out to be entirely illusory. At the same time the Tower passed from the possession of the house of Stanley, being sequestrated, and on 19 September 1646 sold by the Committee for Compounding. (fn. 390) The period of the Civil War thus saw the borough released from the feudal superiority which had so long oppressed it; and though this came back at the Restoration it was less patiently endured, and lasted but a short time. The period also saw the division of the burgesses into two acrimonious political and religious parties, whose strife was to give a new character to the political development of the next epoch.
In the second half of the 17th century the development of Liverpool, which had begun in the first half of the century and been checked by the Civil Wars, received a remarkable impetus; so that in 1699 the borough could claim (fn. 391) that 'from scarce paying the salary of the officers of the Customs, it is now the third port of the trade of England, and pays upwards of £50,000 per annum to the king.' In 1673 the topographer Blome (fn. 392) found that it contained 'divers eminent merchants and tradesmen, whose trade and traffic, especially unto the West Indies, make it famous.' When in 1689 the Commissioners of Customs were asked to report as to the ports which could best supply shipping for transport to Ireland, they stated (fn. 393) that while Chester had 'not above 20 sail of small burden from 25 to 60 tons,' Liverpool had '60 to 70 good ships of from 50 to 200 ton burden, but because they drive a universal foreign trade to the Plantations and elsewhere,' it was impossible to tell how many of them would be available.
The port continued to control the larger share of the Irish trade. It still maintained a considerable traffic to France and Spain, and also to Denmark and Norway. (fn. 394) But, as the statements above quoted show, it was the opening out of a lucrative trade with 'the plantations,' especially the West Indies and Virginia, in sugar, tobacco, and cotton, which made this period mark the beginning of Liverpool's greatness. Several causes conspired to assist this development. The industries of Manchester were undergoing a rapid development, so that, in the words of Blome, (fn. 395) the situation of Liverpool 'afforded in greater plenty and at reasonabler rates than most places in England, such exported commodities proper for the West Indies.' The plague and fire of London had caused 'several ingenious men' to settle in Liverpool, 'which caused them to trade to the plantations,' (fn. 396) while when the French wars began in 1689 London traders found that 'their vessels might come safer north about Ireland, unload their effects at Liverpool, and be at charge of land-carriage from thence to London than run the hazard of having their ships taken by the enemy,' (fn. 397) and Liverpool profited accordingly. As early as 1668 a 'Mr. Smith, a great sugar-baker at London,' was bargaining with Sir Edward Moore (fn. 398) for land on which to build 'a sugar-baker's house … forty feet square and four stories high'; and Sir Edward Moore expected this to 'bring a trade of at least £40,000 a year from the Barbadoes, which formerly this town never knew.' Even more important than the establishment of a sugar-refining industry was the tobacco trade, which grew to large dimensions in these years. In 1701 it was asserted (fn. 399) that a threatened interference with the tobacco trade would 'destroy half the shipping in Liverpool'; (fn. 400) it was 'one of the chiefest trades in England,' and 'we are sadly envyed, God knows, especially the tobacco trade, at home and abroad.' (fn. 401) All the tobacco of Scotland, Ireland, and the north of England was supposed to come to Liverpool. (fn. 402) The result of this growing trade was a remarkably rapid increase of shipping; in the twelve years between 1689 and 1701 the number of vessels in the port had grown from '60 or 70' to 102, which compares not unfavourably with the 165 vessels owned by Bristol in the same year. Shipping brought with it several new industries, and in particular rope-walks began to be a feature of the town, and remained so for more than a century to come. Many new families of importance begin to appear; the Claytons, the Clevelands, the Cunliffes, the Earles, the Rathbones, the Tarletons, and the Johnsons, (fn. 403) win the superiority in municipal affairs from the Moores and the Crosses; 'many gentlemen's sons of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, and North Wales are put apprentices in the town,' (fn. 404) and a new set of names appears in the records. The population was steadily increasing. The ravages of the war, together with outbreaks of plague in 1647 and 1650, (fn. 405) had kept it down, so that in 1673 only 252 householders were assessed for the hearth tax, (fn. 406) giving a total population (allowing for exemptions) of about 1,500; but by the beginning of the 18th century the number was well over 5,000. (fn. 407) And now, for the first time, new streets began to be made in addition to the original seven: Moor Street, Fenwick Street, Fenwick Alley, and Bridge's Alley (fn. 408) having been cut by Sir Edward Moore out of his own lands, while Lord Street was cut by Lord Molyneux in 1668 through the castle orchard to the Pool, and Preeson's Row, Pool Lane (South Castle Street), and several other thoroughfares were being built upon. (fn. 409) Public improvements on a large scale began to be carried out or talked of. In 1673 a new town hall was built, 'placed on pillars and arches of hewn stone, and underneath the public exchange for the merchants.' (fn. 410) This building replaced the old thatched common hall with which the burgesses had been content since it was bequeathed to them by John Crosse; it stood immediately in front of the modern town hall. The difficulty of accommodating the growing shipping of the port was already felt, and among the modes suggested for relieving the pressure was the deepening of the Pool, (fn. 411) a scheme which, in a modified form, ultimately led to the creation of the first dock. Proposals for improving the navigation of the Weaver (fn. 412) to facilitate the Cheshire trade, and for erecting lighthouses (fn. 413) on the coast, met indeed with keen opposition at first from the burgesses, who feared to see trade carried past their wharves; but they were to be converted to both of these schemes before half a century had passed. In the meantime an improvement in the navigation of the Mersey below Warrington, carried out by Mr. Thomas Patten, (fn. 414) of the latter place, led to a material increase of Liverpool's trade, and was the first of a series of such improvements which were pushed forward during the next period.
The rapid growth of the town, and the influx of a new and thriving population unused to the influences by which the town had been so long dominated, reflects itself in a rapid shaking-off of old connexions, which had already been seriously weakened by the Civil War and its consequences. This is perhaps clearest in the case of the Moores, so long the leading family of the town; for Sir Edward Moore, son of the regicide and runagate Colonel John Moore, has left, in the form of instructions to his son, an elaborate description (fn. 415) of his own properties in the town and of his relations to its leaders which is invaluable as an elucidation of this period of transition. Deeply embarrassed by the debts incurred by his father, his estates had only been saved from confiscation by the fact that his wife, Dorothy Fenwick, was the daughter of a noted Royalist; he suffered also, doubtless, from the shadow which hung over his father's name since his desertion in the siege of 1644. Soured by his misfortunes, he was on the worst of terms with the burgess-body, whose records are full of quarrels with him. (fn. 416) Moore had a clear prevision of the growth of the port, and hoped by its means to rehabilitate the fortunes of his house; but the Town Council checked more than one of his schemes. Worse than this, the burgesses refused to elect him either to the mayoralty or as a representative of the borough in Parliament, and this he regarded as ingratitude to his family, as well as a direct injury to his fortunes. His Rental is full of bitterness on this score. 'They have deceived me twice, even to the ruin of my name and family, had not God in mercy saved me; though there was none at the same time could profess more kindness to me than they did, and acknowledge in their very own memories what great patrons my father and grandfather were to the town . . . . Have a care you never trust them … for such a nest of rogues was never educated in one town of that bigness.' (fn. 417) He exhausts an extensive vocabulary for epithets to characterize those who were 'against him,' 'either for parliament man or mayor.' One of his greatest troubles was the difficulty which he experienced in enforcing the use of his mill. The ancient feudal milling rights had now quite broken down, and it was only by inserting a special clause in his leases that Moore, though lessee of two of the principal mills, could enforce the use of them even upon his own tenants. (fn. 418) Sir Edward Moore died in 1678, a worn-out old man at the age of forty-four. His son, Sir Cleave Moore, a 'useless spark,' (fn. 419) was the last representative of the family in Liverpool; in 1712 he allowed a foreclosure to be made on his heavily mortgaged Liverpool lands and retired to estates in the south of England which he had got by marriage. (fn. 420) The departure of the Moores was the breach of one of the last links with the past of a town rapidly reshaping itself.
The same period which saw the departure of the Moores saw also the final settlement of the long feud with the Molyneuxes. At the Restoration the confiscation of their lordship during the Commonwealth was of course annulled. Immediately on taking possession, Caryll Lord Molyneux renewed the action (fn. 421) which his father had brought against the burgesses for invasion of his rights as lord of the manor. The burgesses, knowing that the case would go against them, made an accommodation similar to that which they had made in 1639, whereby they paid £20 per annum for a lease of all the lordship rights. But this did not settle the dispute. Lord Molyneux claimed that the burgesses were bound to pay the rent-charge of £14 6s. 8d. due from him to the Crown over and above the £20; they, on their side, contended that this sum was included in the £20. This dispute presently merged in another. (fn. 422) In 1668 Lord Molyneux had made a thoroughfare through the castle orchard to the Pool. Wishing to continue it, he consulted counsel, who advised him that as lord of the manor he was owner of the waste and had a right to make a thoroughfare over it. He therefore erected a bridge, thus raising the whole question of the ownership of the waste. The mayor and burgesses pulled down the bridge; Molyneux replied with a whole series of actions at law, concerning 'the interests and title of the Corporation of Liverpool as to their claim in the waste grounds of Liverpool,' and also raising anew the old questions of tolls and dues. Had the question been fought out (as the burgesses were prepared to fight it) they would probably have won; for the charter of Charles I, antedating the sale of the lordship, with its grant of all lands, &c. which they then held, however obtained, certainly covered the waste. After two years' fighting, however, a compromise was arranged, by which Molyneux was allowed to build his bridge on payment of a nominal rent of 2d. per annum in recognition of the borough's ownership of the waste; while on the other hand he granted to the borough a lease of all the rights of lordship except the ferry and the burgage-rents (which he still had to pay to the Crown) for 1,000 years at £30 per annum. (fn. 423) In 1777 the lease was bought up from the then Lord Sefton, and this purchase included ferry and burgagerents, which the Molyneuxes had previously purchased from the Crown. (fn. 424) Thus the ancient connexion of this family with the government of the borough came to an end; and with it feudal superiority vanished from the borough.
Molyneux, indeed, remained hereditary constable of the castle, (fn. 425) which was still outside the liberties of the borough, and received the tithes payable to the parochial church of Walton. But both of these powers also vanished during this period. The castle had been partially dismantled between 1660 and 1678, (fn. 426) and it was now mainly used by a number of poor tenants who were allowed to remain within its walls, (fn. 427) beyond the control of the borough authorities. But when in 1688 and 1689 Lord Molyneux, actively supporting James II, made use of the castle for stores and arms, (fn. 428) and when in 1694 he was suspected of being concerned in the organization of a Jacobite rising, (fn. 429) he was confiscated, and the constableship passed out of his hands. (fn. 430) In 1699 the burgesses obtained a lease of the castle for a year, (fn. 431) thus for the first time bringing its precincts under their control. In 1704 they obtained from the Crown a lease (fn. 432) of the castle and its site for fifty years with power to demolish its ruins. Disputes with Lord Molyneux, who still claimed the hereditary constableship, delayed the settlement, and it was not until 1726 that the last relics, the wall at the top of Lord Street, disappeared. (fn. 433) The acquisition of the lordship and of the castle by the burgesses marks the conclusion of the period of struggle with feudal superiors which has hitherto been the staple of burghal history; and, no less than the great development of trade, makes this period the real beginning of modern Liverpool.
The establishment of Liverpool as a separate parish is another sign of the same tendency. The arrangement whereby the tithes paid by Liverpool to Lord Molyneux had during the Commonwealth period been devoted to the provision of a minister for the new parish of Liverpool had, of course, with other Commonwealth arrangements, been suppressed at the Restoration. But the rapid growth of the town made some readjustment inevitable. In 1673 Blome noted (fn. 434) that the chapel of St. Nicholas, though large, was too small to hold the inhabitants of the town, and this inadequacy became accentuated as the influx of population continued. In 1699, in response to a petition from the Corporation, (fn. 435) Liverpool was cut off from the parish of Walton, and created into a separate parish with two rectors appointed and paid by the Corporation. Compensation to the rector of Walton and to Lord Molyneux was also paid by the Corporation. (fn. 436) The borough thus became ecclesiastically as well as administratively independent. Under the same Act which constituted the parish, a new church, that of St. Peter, was erected on the continuation of Lord Molyneux's road across the waste, henceforth to be known as Church Street. But the creation of the parish involved the institution of the vestry as a separate poor-law authority, levying its own rates; (fn. 437) and this marks the beginning of a subdivision of administrative authority which was to be greatly extended during the next century.
The new temper of the burgesses, induced by their prosperity, is further exhibited in the use they made during the period of their Parliamentary franchise. Contested elections had been rare before the Restoration, but almost every election after 1660 was acrimoniously contested. Lord Derby, who had once regularly nominated to one of the seats, was still influential, and his support often sufficed to turn the scale; but he was now only one of a group of magnates who wrote to use their influence at elections, (fn. 438) and after the Revolution his preferences were entirely disregarded. The wealthy merchants who now controlled Liverpool were not to be dictated to. Party feeling had run high, and influence in elections now mainly took the form of bribery, which became rampant in this period.
The bitter feud of two organized parties is indeed the chief feature of municipal history during these years. Since the fever of the Civil War the great issues which divided the nation affected the town as they had never done before; and under the stress of strife between Puritans and Cavaliers, or Whigs and Tories, the forms of borough government underwent a series of remarkable changes, always influenced by the synchronous events in national history. The rising port had emerged from its backwater into the full stream of national life.
Puritanism had been strong in Liverpool, and continued to be strong under Charles II. The Act of Uniformity drove forth two of the ministers of Walton and Liverpool; but there remained a substantial number of Nonconformists. (fn. 439) No less than five aldermen and seven councilmen, together with the town clerk, refused to take the oaths in 1662–3, (fn. 440) being almost one in three of the council; though many who were Puritan in sympathy, like Colonel Birch, (fn. 441) who had been governor of the town under the Commonwealth, made no difficulty about accepting the oaths. Wandering Nonconformist preachers like Thomas Jolly (fn. 442) found 'many opportunities' and 'much comfort' when they came to Liverpool; and on the issue of the Declaration of Indulgence a licence was obtained for a Presbyterian conventicle in 'the house of Thomas Christian,' as well as for two chapels in Toxteth Park. (fn. 443) The rector of Walton writes in 1693 of the presence in Liverpool of 'a number of fanatics from whom a churchman can expect little justice.' (fn. 444)
The presence of this substantial element of declared Nonconformists, backed by a number of Conformists who were Puritan in their sympathies in both political and religious affairs, brought it about that Liverpool was the scene of acute and acrimonious party strife down to, and even after, the Revolution. In 1662 a batch of thirty-eight new freemen were admitted, (fn. 445) nearly all powerful local landowners, and presumably good church and king men, and the object of this was doubtless to modify the Puritan complexion of the borough. But in spite of this it seems clear that the Puritans (or, as it will be more convenient and more accurate to call them, the Whigs) remained in a standing majority in the burgess body, throughout the period, and for a time held their own even in the carefully purified council. (fn. 446) This is especially indicated in the mayoral elections, the only function now left by the council to the burgess body at large. In 1669 a mayor was elected who had refused to take the oaths in 1662; (fn. 447) and when a petition against his election was sent to the Privy Council, a majority of the Town Council voted in favour of paying the costs of resistance. From this it would appear that in 1669 the Whigs were still strong in the council. So long as the bailiffs continued to be elected, under the terms of the Charter of Charles I, by the burgess body, and to become thereafter life members of the council, it seemed impossible for Tory predominance to be established.
Applications for a new charter were made in 1664 (fn. 448) and 1667; (fn. 449) and as the influence of Lord Derby, that sound Cavalier, was enlisted in favour of these applications, it is reasonable to suppose that their object was to obtain a revision in a sense favourable to the Tories. The non-success of these applications may be attributed to the fact that Charles II, until the secession of Shaftesbury in 1672, hoped for Puritan support in his monarchic aims, and was unwilling therefore to weaken Puritan power.
In 1672 the Tories, now in a majority in the council though not in the assembly, and led by a Tory mayor, took the law into their own hands. They appear to have assumed the right of nominating the bailiffs; and when a protest was made, it was comdemned as 'very scandalous and of bad consequence,' and a resolution was passed deposing any of the (Whig) members of council who should be proved to have been concerned in it. (fn. 450) At the next electoral assembly the outgoing mayor, having declared his successor duly elected, adjourned the meeting seemingly without proceeding to the election of bailiffs. (fn. 451) A number of the burgesses, however, refused to be adjourned, and forcing the mayor to continue in the chair, transacted business for two hours, until the mayor was relieved by force. There is no record of their proceedings, which were regarded as illegal. They may have held that the result of the mayoral election was not truly declared; they may have demanded an election of bailiffs; and they may also have insisted upon exercising their chartered right of passing by-laws. For this riotous conduct twenty-six men were deprived of the freedom. In 1676, however, there was again a Whig mayor; (fn. 452) who in conjunction with three Whig aldermen, proceeded to admit a number of new freemen without consulting the council, doubtless for the purpose of affecting the next elections. The council refused to recognize these freemen; and when in 1677 another Whig mayor was elected, declared his election void on the ground that he had been struck off the commission of the peace for the county. (fn. 453) It is worth noting that these events occurred at the time when the Crown was engaged in its death-grapple with Shaftesbury.
On 18 July 1677 the council at last succeeded in obtaining from Charles II a new charter. (fn. 454) In the charter of William III, by which its main provisions were repealed, this charter is described as having been obtained 'by a few of the burgesses by a combination among themselves, and without a surrender of the previous charter or any judgement of quo warranta or otherwise given against the same.' (fn. 455) This doubtless means that the application was made by the Tory majority of the council, without confirmation by the assembly, to which under the charter of Charles I full governing powers belonged. The main purpose of the new charter was to secure the predominance of the council, unmentioned in the Charles I charter, and its control over the whole borough government. The number of the council was raised from forty to sixty in order to permit of the inclusion of 'fifteen … burgesses of the said town dwelling without that town, 'i.e. fifteen good Tory country gentlemen who would secure the Tory majority. The charter also transferred from the assembly to the council the right of electing both the mayor and the bailiffs, as well as the nomination of freemen. As the election of the mayor and bailiffs was the sole municipal power remaining in the hands of the body of burgesses, this provision deprived them of any shadow of power over the government of the town. Their only remaining function was that of electing members of Parliament, and the right of nominating freemen gave control even over these elections ultimately into the hands of the council. Thus the result of this charter was to place the absolute control of the borough in the hands of a small self-electing Tory oligarchy.
The action of the council in the restless strife of the later years of Charles II was what might have been predicted. They passed vigorous loyal addresses against the Exclusion Bill (fn. 456) and in condemnation of the Rye-house Plot; (fn. 457) the latter address contains an interesting allusion to Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, which shows how keenly the movement of national affairs was now followed in the borough. But there is visible in the addresses also an undercurrent of nervousness; their fear of 'Popish contrivances,' and their 'adherence to the true Protestant religion' is a little too loudly insisted upon. This may explain why it was thought necessary to include Liverpool in the list of general revisions of municipal charters at the end of the reign of Charles II and the beginning of that of James II. Issued in the first year of James II, the new charter (fn. 458) simply confirmed its predecessor, but it contained also two new clauses, one reserving to the Crown the right of removing any member of the council or any borough official: the other conveying the power of exacting from any freeman the oaths hitherto required only from councillors, and thus rendering possible a further purification of the burgess body, still predominantly Whig.
Under the terms of this charter, the deputy-mayor and the senior alderman (both Tories) were removed (fn. 459) by the Crown for persisting in prosecuting two Catholics, a surgeon and a schoolmistress, for pursuing their professions, in spite of a licence issued by the Crown. This indicates that in Liverpool, as elsewhere, the loyalty of the Tories to the Crown was limited by their loyalty to the Church. Tory as it was, the council never willingly accepted this charter, which indeed would appear never to have had legal force. (fn. 460) The increasing restiveness of the council is still more clearly shown in the answer given (fn. 461) to commissioners who were in 1687 sent round to obtain promises of aid in securing a Parliament favourable to the repeal of the Test Act. The mayor answered 'that what is required by his Majesty is a very weighty and new thing; and that he was not prepared to give any answer but this: when it shall please the King to call a new Parliament, he proposed to vote for such persons as he hoped would serve the just interests both of his Majesty and the nation.' Only 'four or five customs officers' were ready to promise their votes. (fn. 462)
The borough as a whole was thus ready to welcome, and even the ruling oligarchy was ready to accept, the Revolution. A small force of royal troops were for a time in Liverpool, (fn. 463) and Lord Molyneux, Constable of the castle, took a vigorous part for James as Lord Lieutenant of the county; (fn. 464) but the attitude of Lord Derby, who, Tory as he was, after some wavering, threw himself on the side of the Prince of Orange, (fn. 465) had more to do with determining the attitude of the town; and one of the things he protested against was the 'extravagant methods practised by the new magistrates in the ancient loyal corporations' of Wigan, Liverpool, and Preston, into which he urged that inquiry should be made. (fn. 466) Though some of the townsmen made some difficulty about accepting the oaths to the new monarchs, (fn. 467) on the whole the Revolution was most enthusiastically received in Liverpool; and during 1689 the port was very actively employed in the transport of troops for the Irish campaign, (fn. 468) General Kirke being for a time in command in the town, (fn. 469) while Schomberg passed through it (fn. 470) on his way to embark at Hoylake. So great was the demand for shipping that the merchants complained that they were being ruined. (fn. 471)
The Revolution brought about a temporary reconciliation between the two parties in the town. Not only the Tory magistrates removed by the Crown, (fn. 472) but some of the Whigs who had declined the oaths in 1678, (fn. 473) returned to the council. The charter of James II was dropped by common consent, if it had ever come into force, and in 1690 an inspeximus and confirmation (fn. 474) of the charter of Charles II was obtained from William and Mary. In the first Parliament of the Revolution Liverpool was represented (fn. 475) by Lord Colchester, son-in-law of Lord Derby and a sound Tory, and by Thomas Norris, a strong Whig.
But it was inevitable that the Whigs, in a majority in the burgess-body, should desire power in the town government, and the reconciliation did not last long. In 1694, Lord Colchester being called up to the House of Peers, a Whig was elected in his place by 400 votes against 15 cast for his Tory opponent, (fn. 476) in spite of the support given by Lord Derby to the latter. The Tory mayor went so far as to declare the defeated candidate elected, (fn. 477) for which he was reprimanded by the House of Commons. This election was regarded as a triumph for the party which was anxious to overturn the charter of Charles II; and the two members, Jasper Maudit and Thomas Norris, worked actively (fn. 478) to obtain a new charter. The Town Council voted funds for the defence of the Charles II charter, (fn. 479) and appealed to Roger Kenyon, member for Clitheroe, and to Lord Derby, to fight their case for them at Westminster. (fn. 480) In 1605, however, a new charter (fn. 481) was granted, which first declared the Charles II charter invalid on the grounds already noted, then recited and confirmed the Charles I charter, and went on to reduce the number of the Town Council to forty. This charter remained the governing charter of the borough until 1835. Its general principle (in consonance with the conservative character of the whole revolution of which it was a part) was to restore the system of government as it was supposed to have been before the recent changes. But it was badly drafted; and left open several vital questions over which there was much discussion during the next century—notably the question whether it was within the power of the burgess body at its pleasure to override the powers of the Town Council. (fn. 482)
The Whigs were now in power in the council as well as in the assembly; and though the Tories refused to accept the new charter, (fn. 483) and the exmayor (deposed from the council) refused to yield up the town plate, (fn. 484) they were powerless; and the Whig predominance remained unshaken until the middle of the 18th century. An attempt to obtain the revocation of the William III charter, made by the Tories during the period of Tory ascendancy in national councils in 1710, was unsuccessful; (fn. 485) as were also sundry attacks in a different form upon the dominant Whigs, to which we shall have to allude in the next section. The Liverpool members of Parliament during this period were also steadily Whig. The chief of them, Sir Thomas Johnson, sat for Liverpool from 1701 to 1727, (fn. 486) and all attacks upon his seat were unsuccessful. (fn. 487) He and his father had been the leaders in the struggle against the Tory supremacy. A representative of the new class of Liverpool merchants, he was assiduous in his attentions to the interests of the town, (fn. 488) and deserves to be regarded as one of the principal fosterers of its new prosperity. He died a poor man after a laborious life, and his memory now survives only in the name of Sir Thomas Street. (fn. 489)
Fairly launched on its upward career by 1700, Liverpool was to enjoy during the course of the 18th century a rapidly increasing prosperity, the course of which it will be impossible to follow in any detail. Staunchly loyal to the Protestant succession, the town enjoyed the favour of the Whig party. Its Whiggism may be illustrated by the fact that in 1714 it forwarded an address to the Crown, asking for the punishment of the Tory ministers of Anne, who had endeavoured to restore the exiled Stuarts; (fn. 490) by the fact that in 1709 it was the only provincial town to offer hospitality to the exiled 'Palatines,' of whom it took 130 families; (fn. 491) and above all by the fact that in the rebellion of 1715, during which it was the single stronghold of Whiggism in Lancashire, it threw itself vigorously into a state of defence. (fn. 492) When the rebellion was crushed it was not unnaturally chosen as the venue for many of the trials; (fn. 493) two of the unfortunate prisoners were executed on the gallows in London Road, while many hundreds were transported, to the no small profit of the Liverpool traders who took them out. The later rebellion of 1745 found Liverpool equally loyal; a regiment of foot was raised and equipped by public subscription, (fn. 494) and after having a brush with the Highlanders near Warrington, it played a useful part in garrisoning Carlisle, during the Duke of Cumberland's northward advance, its conduct earning warm praise. (fn. 495) When the rising was over, the party feeling of the town burst forth in mob riots, in the course of which the only Roman Catholic chapel was burnt. (fn. 496) As might be expected in a town so vigorously Whig, the ascendancy of the Whig party remained almost unshaken both in municipal politics and in the Parliamentary elections. Liverpool was generally regarded as a safe Whig borough, (fn. 497) and the power of electing new freemen, hitherto pretty generously exercised, now began to be used by the Town Council for the purpose of securing party ascendancy. (fn. 498) Under these circumstances the Tory party, extruded from power, made themselves the advocates of the rights of the burgess body as against the Town Council—rights of which they had formerly been the principal opponents. The election of Sir Thomas Bootle as one of the members for the borough from 1727 to 1734 (fn. 499) represents the partial triumph of this interest. During the same period, and largely under Bootle's influence, a vigorous attack was made on the ascendancy of the Town Council, (fn. 500) which was for some years quite overridden, the government of the town being assumed, in accordance with the popular interpretation of a clause in the William III charter, by a succession of popular mayors acting through the assembly of burgesses. In 1734 Lord Derby was elected mayor, and under his powerful direction, an attempt was made to regularize the position of the assembly, and to establish its right of passing by-laws and electing freemen. Lord Derby died before the end of his year of office; and after his death the agitation quietly and completely died out. There was a partial revival of the controversy in 1757, when Mr. Joseph Clegg, (fn. 501) one of the aldermen who had been mayor in 1748, led a renewed attack upon the council. But though the council tried in vain to obtain a new charter (fn. 502) establishing beyond question its control of borough government Clegg's attack came to nothing, and the challenge of the council's authority was not again renewed until the time of the French Revolution. The chief interest of this struggle is the demonstration which it affords that the ascendancy of the Whigs was as narrowly oligarchic as that of the Tories had been after the Restoration. Indeed, it was even more so; for it is to this period that we must attribute an increasing chariness in granting the freedom of the borough to new-comers. (fn. 503) Up to the beginning of the 18th century it would appear that almost all residents obtained the freedom without difficulty. By the middle of the century it was rarely granted to new-comers except for the purpose of influencing elections; and finally in 1777 the rule was laid down (fn. 504) that none but apprentices and sons of freemen should be admitted to the freedom. Thus in the second half of the century a minority of the principal merchants of the town exercised political rights in it. This increasing restriction was peculiarly unfortunate at a period when, owing to the rapid growth of trade, the population was increasing with unheard-of rapidity. But it is probably to be attributed to the very fact of this increase of trade, the town council being unwilling to sacrifice the large revenue which they derived from the dues paid by non-freemen. These dues were now for the first time becoming very valuable; and hence arose a new series of struggles, due to the attempt of boroughs such as London, Bristol and Lancaster, to obtain exemption from the payment of dues in Liverpool under the mediaeval charters which freed them from the payment of dues throughout the kingdom. One such question had already been raised by the London cheesemongers in 1690; (fn. 505) it was revived at intervals during the century, (fn. 506) both on behalf of the freemen of London, and on behalf of those of other towns, and was not finally determined till 1799, (fn. 507) when after a long trial, it was laid down that only 'freemen residing within the liberties' of the borough which put forward the claim were entitled to the exemption.
All these disputes were in themselves evidences of the growing wealth to which they were due. The secret of this rising prosperity was that Liverpool was in this period obtaining an increasingly large share of the trade which was then the richest in the world— that with the West Indies, whence almost all the sugar, tobacco, and other 'colonial produce' consumed by Europe was derived. In comparison with the West India trade, the trade with the American colonies was of very small importance, and as late as 1752 only one Liverpool vessel is said to have plied to New York. (fn. 508) Not only was there the direct trade with the British West Indies, but, even more lucrative, a large irregular smuggling trade with Spanish America was carried on, in spite of the prohibition of the Spanish government. In this traffic, the southern ports of Bristol and London possessed at the end of the 17th century a very great advantage. During the early years of the 18th century Liverpool rapidly gained at their expense. For this two reasons are alleged. The first is that her ships were largely manned with apprentices who received next to no wages until they reached the age of twenty-one, and that the customary rate of pay for the captains and officers was lower than the rate which held in the southern ports. (fn. 509) More important was the second cause: namely, that the coarse stuffs of mixed linen and cotton, or linen and woollen (linsey woolsey) which were produced by the looms of Manchester were in great request in the West Indian markets, and were produced more cheaply than the corresponding German goods with which the southern traders endeavoured to supply the market. (fn. 510) Thus, as always, the growth of Liverpool trade was concurrent with the growth of Manchester industry. The smuggling trade with the Spanish colonies, and the frequent conflicts with Spanish guarda costas to which it gave rise, ultimately led to the Spanish war of 1739, and was almost brought to an end by an Act of Parliament of 1747, which forbade foreign vessels to frequent British West India ports. (fn. 511) But while it was at its height (about 1730) this branch of trade alone is said to have brought into Liverpool an annual profit of £250,000 and to have consumed over £500,000 worth of Manchester goods. (fn. 512)
The legitimate and illegitimate trade of the West Indies and South America equally led on the traders who engaged in it to the still more lucrative African trade which could be worked in combination with it. It was in this period that Liverpool first entered upon the slave trade, out of which she was to draw, during the century, fabulous riches; and which was to earn for her a highly unsavoury reputation. At the end of the century the greatness of Liverpool was generally attributed—by her own citizens as well as by others (fn. 513) —entirely to the slave trade. Yet it was not until the fourth decade of the century, when Liverpool was already rapidly overtaking Bristol, that this line of trade began to be seriously developed; and she had long been preceded in it by the two great southern ports. Up to 1698 the monopoly of the African trade had been held by the Assiento Company of London. In that year its formal monopoly was abolished, (fn. 514) though it still retained the sole right of importing slaves into the Spanish dominions. In the early years of the eighteenth century Bristol began to compete with London—led on, as Liverpool was later to be, from the West Indies to the source of their labour supply. Indeed the Bristol merchants seem to have been driven to the African trade largely by the successful competition of Liverpool in the Spanish smuggling trade. (fn. 515) In 1709 one Liverpool vessel of 30 tons burthen was dispatched to Africa; (fn. 516) but the venture does not seem to have been successful, probably owing to the jealousy of the Bristol and London men, for it was not repeated for twenty years. In 1730 an Act of Parliament for the regulation of the African trade (fn. 517) established an open company to which any person trading to Africa might belong on payment of 40s. The money was to be used for the up-keep of factories on the African coast; and the administration of these was entrusted to a committee of nine, consisting of three members elected by the merchants of each of the three ports, London, Bristol, and Liverpool. At once, under the new system, Liverpool threw herself energetically into the trade. In the same year, 1730, fifteen vessels of 1,111 tons were dispatched to Africa. (fn. 518) In 1752 the number had risen to eighty-eight vessels accommodating nearly 25,000 slaves, (fn. 519) though it had sunk by 1760 to seventy-four vessels of 8,178 tons. (fn. 520) In 1751 a separate Liverpool company was established (fn. 521) by Act of Parliament. The Act states that there were 101 African merchants in Liverpool, but though there were 135 in London and 157 in Bristol, 'their trade to Africa is not so extensive as the merchants of Liverpool.' The methods and development of this trade cannot here be described. The materials for its history have been fully marshalled by Mr. Gomer Williams, to whose valuable book (fn. 522) the reader who is inquisitive on this subject may be referred. But it should be noted that the immensely lucrative character of this traffic is to be attributed to the fact that a treble profit was made on every voyage. The cheap guns, ornaments, and stuffs which formed the outward cargo were exchanged for slaves at an average cost of about £15; the slaves were then shipped to Virginia or (more often) to Kingston, Jamaica (where the Liverpool merchants combined to maintain permanent agents) and sold at a price which varied from £60 upwards; the ships were then loaded with sugar, tobacco, and other highly saleable West Indian produce for the homeward voyage. Comparatively few slaves were brought home to England, though occasional advertisements in the Liverpool papers show that a few were imported before 1772, when the Somerset case made such importations illegal. This 'great triangle' of trade was probably the most lucrative in the history of commerce, for its profits were not only very large but rapid. Thus vast fortunes were made, and a vast capital accumulated in Liverpool, much of which went to develop other lines of trade, or to aid those works, now beginning to be undertaken, for the improvement of the equipment of the port and its communications with inland markets.
Of these activities the most important was the creation of the first dock. The idea of deepening the Pool which curved round the town and turning it into a more effective harbour had long been entertained by some of the more enterprising townsmen; it is alluded to by Sir Edward Moore as early as 1668. (fn. 523) But in the first years of the 18th century the necessity of some such provision for the increasing shipping became obvious. The first project, put forward in 1708 by a Mr. Henry Hun of Derby, (fn. 524) was one for simply deepening and walling in the whole length of the Pool. But in the next year Mr. Thomas Steers, an engineer brought from London by Sir Thomas Johnson, proposed the alternative scheme of making a square dock with gates in the mouth of the Pool. This proposal was accepted, and an Act of Parliament obtained to empower the Town Council to borrow the necessary funds and to raise dock dues for the payment of the interest thereon. (fn. 525) The construction of the dock was begun in 1710 under the direction of Steers. It took longer, and cost more to build, than had been anticipated; it was opened for use on 31 August 1715, but was not then completed, and a second Act had to be obtained in 1716 (fn. 526) to empower the council to raise additional funds for the completion of the works. A 'dry dock' or basin was added two years later. (fn. 527) From the first the dock (whose site is now represented by the Custom House) was fully used, but it was not until 1734 (fn. 528) that the creation of a new dock, known as the South or Salthouse Dock, was begun. This, as there was no natural inlet to facilitate the work, took nineteen years to build, and was not opened until 1753. (fn. 529)
The beginning of the dock estate marks an epoch in the history of the town; it is the beginning of modern Liverpool. The Pool, the characteristic feature of mediaeval Liverpool, now vanishes from the maps, leaving as its sole trace the irregularity of the directions of the streets that had been compressed into the triangle between it and the river. But the creation of docks was not the only enterprise of this period for the improvement of the port's trading facilities. The channel of the river was buoyed and charted; (fn. 530) lighthouses were erected, (fn. 531) the first good carriage roads out of the town were made with the aid of the Town Council; (fn. 532) the streams running into the Mersey estuary were deepened so as to make them navigable: the Weaver (not without opposition) in 1720, (fn. 533) the Mersey and the Irwell also in 1720, (fn. 534) and the Sankey Brook in 1755; (fn. 535) while the deepening of the Douglas from Wigan to the Ribble (fn. 536) cheapened the transport of coal. The Sankey navigation, carried out seemingly by a Liverpool engineer, and largely financed by Liverpool men, (fn. 537) departed frankly from the line of the original brook, and so foreshadowed the era of canals.
The increment of trade which produced all these activities may be indicated by the single fact that during the first half of the 18th century the shipping of the port rose from seventy ships with 800 men (in 1700) to 220 ships with 3,319 men in 1751. (fn. 538) In the same period the population rose from 5,000 (est.) in 1700 to 18,000 (est.) in 1750. (fn. 539) New local industries were also created or greatly developed in this period: shipbuilding, sugar refining, ropemaking, iron-working, watch-making, and pottery, all flourished. (fn. 540) In pottery, in particular, Liverpool enjoyed in this age a brief eminence. By the middle of the 18th century, therefore, the town was already vigorous and thriving; rejoicing especially in its recently acquired mastery of the most lucrative trade in the world.
In the second half of the 18th century the commercial triumph of Liverpool was secured. This was due to several causes, the first of which was the effect of the wars which almost filled this age.
In the Spanish War of 1739 and the War of the Austrian Succession into which it merged, Liverpool seems to have taken comparatively little part, though she had shared so largely in the irregular traffic of the South Seas from which it sprang. Four or five privateers are known to have plied from the town, and they made a number of valuable captures; (fn. 541) but the non-existence of local newspapers during this period makes it difficult to discover the exact extent of these privateering activities. On the other hand 103 Liverpool vessels are known to have been captured by the enemy. (fn. 542) Nevertheless the port profited exceedingly from the war, owing to the comparative security of the route through the Irish Sea. A local observer writes in 1753 that the war had brought such wealth that if it had lasted 'seven years longer it would have enlarged the size and riches of the town to a prodigious degree … Trade since the late peace has not been so brisk as formerly.' (fn. 543) War therefore was welcomed in Liverpool.
From the Seven Years' War the town derived even greater advantages. Though Thurot, (fn. 544) a brilliant French privateer, found his way into the Irish Sea, and in 1758 and 1759 caused much alarm in the Mersey, rendering necessary the fortification of the port, (fn. 545) and though ninety-eight Liverpool vessels were during the course of the war captured by the French, (fn. 546) the activity of the Liverpool traders in privateering was vastly greater than it had ever been before, and their captures were on the whole exceedingly valuable. It is not possible to state the exact number of ships employed; (fn. 547) but it was very large, and these years in particular were distinguished by the activity of William Hutchinson, perhaps the boldest and most successful of Liverpool privateers. (fn. 548) The result of the war was practically to sweep French commerce from Atlantic waters, and to establish English ascendancy in the West Indies almost as completely as on the North American continent. In the commercial gains which thus accrued Liverpool had the lion's share.
In the War of the American Revolution the port suffered very seriously. Not only was trade with the revolted colonies practically stopped, but American privateers made West Indian waters unsafe, and under Paul Jones even ravaged the coasts of Britain, (fn. 549) while the commerce of the Americans themselves was of such negligible amount as to make privateering useless. (fn. 550) 'Our once extensive trade with Africa is at a stand; all commerce with America is at an end,' and the 'gallant ships' were 'laid up and useless' in the docks. (fn. 551) During the war the population actually decreased, and the shipping of the port diminished from 84,792 to 79,450 tons. (fn. 552) The distress thus caused led to grave riots, the most serious of which broke out in 1775, when 3,000 unemployed sailors laid siege to the Town Hall, and terrorized the town for a week. (fn. 553) The regular troops of the garrison had to be distributed through the town. (fn. 554) Nevertheless the town took a vigorous and patriotic part in the war. A large fort with barracks was erected on the north shore, where the Prince's Dock now is; (fn. 555) a regiment of regular troops known as the Liverpool Blues was raised, mainly at the cost of the Corporation—it was employed in the garrisoning of Jamaica; (fn. 556) a corps of local volunteers was also raised in 1782; (fn. 557) while the pressgang found a field in Liverpool for its unpopular activity. (fn. 558) When in 1778 France and later Spain and Holland joined in the war, privateering once more became a profitable pursuit, and provided employment for idle ships; no less than 120 privateers, (fn. 559) of 31,000 tons, were plying from Liverpool within a year of the French declaration of war, and nearly 9,000 sailors thus found employment. (fn. 560) The years from 1778 to 1782 were the period of Liverpool's greatest activity in privateering; (fn. 561) 'the merchants of Liverpool,' we are told, 'have entered more into the spirit of arming ships than any others in England'; (fn. 562) and many brilliant feats are recorded, of which no account can here be given. Some hundreds of French prisoners occupied during these years the old tower and the powder magazine in Brownlow Hill. (fn. 563)
The profits of privateering, however, great as they were, were a poor consolation for the almost complete destruction of trade. The declaration of peace was immediately followed by a great revival, and the decade, 1783–93, was an era of amazingly rapid advance. (fn. 564) The French Revolutionary War did not at first interrupt this advance, but rather accentuated it. Though it at first caused a commercial panic, which rendered necessary the issue of Corporation notes under Parliamentary powers, (fn. 565) this was temporary only; and the port gained far more by the destruction of French trade than it lost by the dislocation of its commerce caused by the war. At the outset of the war privateering was again actively undertaken; (fn. 566) but it never attained the same dimensions as during the American War, because there were not so many idle vessels to welcome this mode of employment; and after a few years privateering almost ceased, for the very satisfactory reason that there were so few ships belonging to France and her allies on the seas as to make it an unprofitable enterprise. (fn. 567) French privateers made the seas dangerous, and trading vessels had to be prepared to fight unless they sailed in large convoys; (fn. 568) many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Liverpool sailors were captured by the enemy and peopled French prisons, from which they sometimes made daring escapes (fn. 569) On the other hand French prisoners in large numbers (4,009 in 1799) were immured in the gaol in Great Howard Street, and formed a feature of Liverpool life. (fn. 570)
Deprived to a large extent of the excitement of privateering, the military enthusiasm of the turbulent Liverpool population found other vents. The pressgang was a continual terror, and its ravages frequently passed all reasonable bounds. (fn. 571) The fort was strengthened and armed with fifty guns, while batteries were erected at the mouths of the docks. (fn. 572) Large forces of volunteers and yeomanry were raised; (fn. 573) in 1804 180 officers and 3,686 men were reviewed. (fn. 574) A regiment of regulars was, after the peace of Amiens, enlisted in the town at the expense of Mr. John Bolton, (fn. 575) a wealthy merchant; and the Duke of Gloucester (fn. 576) took up his quarters at San Domingo House, Everton, to command all these forces.
The first part of the war unquestionably told heavily in favour of Liverpool trade, in spite of the commercial insecurity caused by the ever-present risk of capture. In the second period Napoleon's continental system inflicted grave hardship, especially severely felt by the poor of the town; (fn. 577) and its result, the American War of 1812, which produced a swarm of dangerous American privateers, (fn. 578) was disastrous in its effects: the number of ships entering the port declining from 6,729 in 1810 to 4,599 in 1812. (fn. 579) Yet even this struggle ultimately tended to the increase of Liverpool's trade, by driving finally all rival shipping from the seas; at the end of the period of war in 1815, Liverpool found herself practically absolute mistress of the trade between America and Europe.
While the wars were securing to Liverpool the dominance of the Atlantic trade, the other main source of her wealth, the industries of Lancashire, were being transformed. The amazing story of the great inventions and the great development of roads and canals of this period concern Lancashire at large and the whole of England. But it should be noted that no town more directly profited by these developments than Liverpool, for almost the whole of the districts most affected by the new inventions lay within a hundred miles of her harbour; while the canals and roads made communication with them easy, and for the first time overcame that geographical isolation which had been the main obstacle to her progress. For this reason the merchants at Liverpool took an immense part in devising and carrying through these enterprises, and much of the capital for the new canals was supplied by the wealth earned in the slave trade or the trade with America.
Concurrently with these movements, the same period saw a remarkable development of foreign markets. The great expansion of the United States into the Middle West (fn. 580) began in the last years of the 18th century, and was much stimulated by the Louisiana purchase; emigration on a large scale, caused by the distress which accompanied the Industrial Revolution, helped to fill up these lands; they provided new sources of raw materials, and it was in this period, in particular, that the supply of raw cotton began to be derived mainly from the Southern States; as late as 1784 it was so exclusively drawn from the West Indies that a custom-house officer is said to have seized a small consignment brought in an American vessel on the ground that its importation was an infringement of the Navigation Acts. (fn. 581) At the end of the period (in 1813) the trade with the East Indies, hitherto confined to the East India Company, was thrown open, and in 1814 the first Liverpool ships rounded the Cape of Good Hope. (fn. 582) In a few years India had become one of the principal markets for the goods exported from Liverpool. The period of the Revolutionary wars also saw Spanish America thrown open to trade. When Napoleon took possession of Spain the Spanish colonies declined to accept his rule, threw off the close restrictions which the mothercountry had imposed upon their trade; and, on the restoration of peace, declined to return to their allegiance, mainly because they were unwilling to sacrifice their newly-acquired commercial freedom. From the first Liverpool controlled the bulk of this rapidly expanding South American trade, (fn. 583) which she has held ever since; and it is more than a coincidence that Canning, the minister responsible for the British recognition of the Spanish-American colonies in 1825, had himself been member for Liverpool for ten years (1812–22). Thus during the years when the commerce of rival nations was being driven from the Atlantic mainly to the advantage of Liverpool, the unexampled development of the industrial and mineral advantages of Lancashire and the northern midlands was supplying the Liverpool merchants with an inexhaustible supply of goods for export, and the expansion of America and the opening of trade to India and South America were providing enormous new markets. It is not surprising that the trade of the port advanced with a rapidity hitherto unknown in English history, and that the population of the port grew concurrently.
The growth of trade during this period is indicated by the fact that the gross tonnage owned in the port, 19,175 in 1751, had risen to 72,730 in 1787, to 129,470 in 1801. Other figures tell the same tale. During the period 1756–1815 four new docks and two tidal basins were opened. The dock area of the port, less than 30 acres in 1756, had risen to over 50 acres in 1815. Still more rapid was the expansion of the next period, as the table on p. 42 will show. During the same period several local industries rose to their highest prosperity, and then decayed and vanished—destroyed mainly by that localization of industrial functions and that growing ease of communication which were the principal causes of Liverpool's commercial ascendancy. Thus shipbuilding was at its height in the last quarter of the 18th century; (fn. 584) it decayed thereafter. The Greenland fishery, (fn. 585) which began for Liverpool in 1764, and in 1788 employed 21 ships, had almost vanished by 1815, as had the oil-refining industry to which it gave birth. The curing-houses for herring, (fn. 586) which carried on a large export trade with the Mediterranean, were at their height about 1770, but had almost vanished by 1815. Two or three iron foundries existed in the town in the same period; (fn. 587) they were driven out of work by the competition of the coalfield towns. The pottery industry also came to an end during these years. (fn. 588)
The destruction of productive industries is indeed a feature of this period. It did not interfere with the growth of the town's wealth or population, but it left it entirely dependent upon sea-borne commerce, and imposed upon it the specific social characteristics involved in that fact.
The growth of population in this period was very rapid. About 20,000 in 1751, it was 60,000 in 1791, 77,000 in 1801, 94,000 in 1811, 118,000 in 1821. The last two figures do not fully represent the actual growth, for the town had by this time overpassed the limits of the old township, especially on the south and on the north-east, and very populous suburbs had been created in Toxteth and Everton, which contained in 1831 a population of 40,000.
The great inrush of new inhabitants represented by these figures came from all parts of the United Kingdom. A writer of 1795 notes 'the great influx of Irish and Welsh, of whom the majority of the inhabitants at present consists.' (fn. 589) There were also many Scots, especially among the captains of ships and the heads of great trading-houses. Irish immigration became still more vigorous after the rising of 1798, though it was not to reach its height until the potatofamine of 1846. Though the town was expanding geographically with great rapidity, building did not go on fast enough to accommodate the numerous immigrants. They were crowded together in the most horrible way in the older part of the town; in 1790 it was calculated (fn. 590) that over one-ninth of the population lived in cellars, at the rate of four persons to each cellar. (fn. 591) In the new quarters built for the reception of these immigrants the building was so shoddy that a storm in 1823 blew many of the houses down; (fn. 592) there were no building regulations, and the houses were erected back to back, without adequate provision for air and light, and almost without any sanitary arrangements; it is with these slum areas that the government of the city has been struggling ever since. Most of the streets were unsewered. The water supply was exceedingly scanty; before 1800 water was sold from carts; (fn. 593) after the institution of the two water companies in 1799 (fn. 594) and 1802, (fn. 595) the supply, being conducted for a commercial profit, was naturally inadequate in the poorer quarters. Publichouses were extraordinarily numerous; as early as 1772 the Town Council had to urge the magistrates to reduce the number, (fn. 596) and in 1795 it was calculated that one house in every seven was licensed for the sale of strong drink. (fn. 597)
Overcrowded, unhealthy, dirty and drunken, the population of the town was also very turbulent, as might be expected from the influence upon them of the slave traders and the privateers-men. The police arrangements were quite inadequate. Under an Act of 1748, (fn. 598) which established a commission, independent of the Town Council, for the watching, lighting, and cleansing of the town, the police force consisted of sixty night watchmen; the number was increased under the Act of 1788, (fn. 599) but no day police was provided until 1811, when the Town Council divided the borough into seven districts and allotted three constables to each. (fn. 600)
Thus the evils which had followed the sudden growth of wealth and population seemed to outweigh its advantages. This was in part due to the fact that the system of borough government had been in no way adapted to the new conditions. (fn. 601) The selfelected Town Council still continued in absolute control of the corporate estate, including the docks, and still possessed the power of regulating the trade of the port. It regarded itself merely as the trustee of the body of freemen, which now formed only a small part, and by no means the most important part, of the population. Even the freemen's privileges, however, were limited to the right of voting in the election of mayor, bailiffs, and members of Parliament, and to exemption from the payment of town dues. They were admitted to no further share in the government of the borough, and hence arose, under the influence of the French Revolution, a new challenge to the authority of the council, and a new attempt to establish that of the assembly of burgesses. Begun in 1791, (fn. 602) it was brought into the law courts, where a verdict was three times given in favour of the claims of the assembly. The council, however, was always able to claim a new trial on technical grounds, and in the end the attack on their position was abandoned, partly because private resources were unable to stand the conflict with public funds, partly because the reaction against the French Revolution distracted support from this quasi-democratic movement. Liverpool had, indeed, by this time become very firmly Tory, and the change in its politics from the Whiggism of the previous age is one of the most curious features of the period. It seems to have begun in the early years of George III, when the Town Council took the side of the king in the Wilkes struggle, sending up addresses of support. (fn. 603) The body of burgesses still, however, remained predominantly Whig, as is shown by the continual election of Sir William Meredith as member until 1780. At the outset of the American struggle addresses of protest against the policy of government were sent from Liverpool, (fn. 604) but the Town Council and the mass of the burgesses very loyally supported the war, (fn. 605) and in spite of the distress which it caused, its progress only made the town more Tory. (fn. 606) The first events of the French Revolution revived Whiggism for a time, (fn. 607) but the reaction after the September massacres completed the Tory victory; and the group of leading Whigs who surrounded Roscoe had to withdraw from public life. (fn. 608) In the first years of the new century Whiggism held up its head again. Roscoe was returned to Parliament in 1806, (fn. 609) but mainly on the ground of his local popularity, and the votes which he cast against the slave trade and for Catholic emancipation earned him an unpopularity which expressed itself in riots on his return to Liverpool. (fn. 610) During the struggle on the slave trade question, indeed, Liverpool had been absolutely committed to the support of the party from which alone it had any prospect of the maintenance of its most lucrative traffic, (fn. 611) while the inrush of Catholic Irish, having produced already the characteristic Orangeism of the Protestant population, formed another motive to Toryism. Not even the unpopularity of the Orders in Council sufficed to enable Brougham (who had been mainly identified with the opposition to them) to defeat Canning in the fiercely-fought election of 1812, (fn. 612) and Liverpool remained steadily Tory down to the eve of the Reform Act.
Alongside of its more unpleasant developments, this period witnessed the rise of many promising movements. The administration of the Poor Law (fn. 613) was undertaken with exceptional vigour and enlightenment, and while in other suddenly-grown industrial and commercial towns the old administrative fabric of the annual Easter vestry and the elected overseers broke down completely, in Liverpool there was gradually developed a system of government through an annually elected committee, which regulated extralegally the work of the overseers with such success that Liverpool has been described as the model urban poor-law district of this period. The chief credit for the successful establishment of this system, which had assumed its final form by 1775, belongs to Mr. Joseph Brooks, who as unpaid treasurer from 1768 to 1788 exercised almost absolute authority over the affairs of the parish. It was under his direction that in 1770 the new workhouse in Brownlow Hill was erected; (fn. 614) it was on the whole so well administered that the poor rates—in a town where poverty was more widespread than in most others—never rose beyond 3s. 9d. (fn. 615) in the £ even in the height of the Revolutionary war. The committee, that is to say, kept itself free from the extravagant and mischievous methods of indiscriminate relief which were general throughout England from 1795 onwards. This remarkable success is mainly to be attributed to the work of a group of public-spirited citizens, among whom may be named Dr. Currie, the friend of Roscoe. (fn. 616)
The Evangelical revival affected Liverpool deeply. Wesley visited the town several times, (fn. 617) with considerable effect, and within the Church of England the Evangelical party became dominant in the town. (fn. 618) This was a period of great activity in church building, as will be seen later. It was also a period of considerable activity in the provision of schools for the poor, (fn. 619) a movement which was carried on in Liverpool in the last twenty years of the century with a concerted activity greater than was displayed in most other towns. An eager charity, too, was born, (fn. 620) the expression of that new humanitarian spirit, born of the Evangelical revival, of which another expression was to be found in the movement for the abolition of the slave trade. In Roscoe, William Rathbone, Currie, Rushton, and others, Liverpool provided some of the most vigorous apostles of this reform; their courage is the more noteworthy because the popular feeling of the town was, naturally, intensely strong on the other side.
The period witnessed also a remarkable intellectual revival. This showed itself in the wit and humour of the numerous squibs issued during parliamentary elections, (fn. 621) many of which still retain some of their salt; it showed itself in that keen interest in the history and antiquities of the borough which produced no less than four Histories of Liverpool between 1770 and 1823, (fn. 622) and was still more profitably displayed in the learning of Henry Brown (fn. 623) the attorney, which illuminates the trials on the powers of the Town Council in 1791, in the researches of Matthew Gregson, whose Portfolio of Fragments was published in 1819, and above all in the monumental collections made by Charles Okill, which are still preserved in the municipal archives and have formed the basis of all later work on the history of the borough. But above all these newborn intellectual interests were fostered by the circle of illuminati which surrounded William Roscoe, and of which no detailed account can here be given. (fn. 624) Roscoe himself wrote lives of Lorenzo de' Medici and of Leo X which were hailed with delight throughout Europe; he produced also a great monograph on the Monandrian plants, a good deal of verse, and a large number of pamphlets, including some very enlightened speculations on Penal Jurisprudence; he took a profound interest in the fine arts, and himself did some etching; he threw himself into the movement for agricultural improvements; he corresponded with many of the leading men of his day; he formed a noble library and a fine collection of pictures. His friend William Shepherd, (fn. 625) Unitarian minister of Gateacre, wrote a life of Poggio Bracciolini which is still valuable. Dr. James Currie, (fn. 626) besides taking up poor-law admini stration, was the friend and biographer of Burns. Others also might be named if space allowed. (fn. 627) Under the encouragement of this group of friends Liverpool became for a time a centre of fine printing and of exquisite bookbinding; (fn. 628) Roscoe had his own books printed in his own town. From this intellectual revival proceeded a remarkable group of public institutions. The Liverpool Library, founded as early as 1758, (fn. 629) became a thriving institution. (fn. 630) The Athenaeum was founded in 1798 (fn. 631) as a library for scholars, and was later enriched by many of Roscoe's books. The Botanic Gardens were instituted in 1803. (fn. 632) The Medical Library came to birth in 1775. (fn. 633) Finally, the Royal Institution, meant to be the focus for every kind of intellectual interest, was projected in 1813 and opened in 1817. (fn. 634) These promising beginnings did not lead to any very striking results; partly, no doubt, because they were not spontaneous, but were due to the accidental presence in uncongenial surroundings of a group of fine spirits; partly because they were swamped by the flood of growing wealth; partly because the coming of the railway imposed, during the greater part of the 19th century, the intellectual dominance of the metropolis upon the provincial towns.
The twenty years which followed the great war saw a steady expansion of foreign trade—less swift, indeed, than had been expected; but more steady in Liverpool than in England at large. The course of this expansion may be best indicated by the figures of entrances and clearances (fn. 635) of vessels engaged in the foreign trade :—
But the principal interest of these years is to be found rather in the signs of coming political change which they exhibited, and which resulted from the expansion of the earlier period, than in the proof that the earlier causes of prosperity were still at work. Though Liverpool remained predominantly Tory in sentiment until the eve of the Reform Bill, the twenty years which followed the war saw many movements towards change, and an increasingly clear realization of the necessity of recasting the traditional system of administration. It was, indeed, with the left or progressive wing of the Tory party that the town was associated; as is shown by the election of Canning by large majorities from 1812 to 1822 and of Huskisson from 1822 to 1830—beyond comparison the most distinguished politicians who have ever represented Liverpool. (fn. 636) The steady growth of the population of the town, which, with its suburbs, had reached the figure of 205,000 in 1831, and the expansion of trade, which has been already summarized, made the earlier system of administration impossible. These years witnessed an awakening on the part of the Town Council to a keener sense of its responsibilities, as is shown by the large schemes of public improvements for which parliamentary authority was obtained; (fn. 637) by the establishment in 1826 of two elementary schools in the north and south of the borough, (fn. 638) at the expense of the corporation, as a sort of compensation for the old grammar school which had been suppressed in 1802; (fn. 639) by the purchase of lands on a large scale in Birkenhead (fn. 640) with a view to preventing the creation of a rival port, and providing for the possible future requirements of Liverpool trade; and by great activity in the extension of the docks, which were increased between 1815 and 1835 from 50 acres to 80 acres of area. The rise of a demand for change is perhaps most clearly seen in the discussions on the administration of the Dock Estate, hitherto under the absolute control of the corporation, which led in 1825 to the addition to the Dock Committee of representatives of ratepayers using the docks. (fn. 641) The same kind of discontent was shown in the attempt of a number of non-freemen ratepayers to escape from the payment of town dues, which led to long litigation extending from 1830 to 1833. (fn. 642) But the most serious aspect of the situation was the fact that the council, regarding itself simply as the trustee for the property of the body of freemen, had allowed many of the main functions of urban government to slip, wholly or partially, out of its hands. Thus the control of the watching, lighting, and cleansing of the streets had been since 1748 under the control of a separate commission (fn. 643) consisting partly of the mayor and some of the borough magistrates, partly of representatives of the ratepayers elected at the annual Easter vestry; while the control of sewerage, except in the 'old streets,' had recently been vested in another commission. (fn. 644)
The corporation had since the 17th century ceased to raise rates, and all public functions which necessitated the raising of rates were performed by other public bodies of limited powers, so that there was no single body responsible for the general oversight of the health and well-being of the town. The corporation, while, as we have seen, it retained control of public improvements and of the dock estate, had to perform these functions out of the revenue from its estate and from the town dues and other traditional payments, and as these were inadequate to the purpose these functions had not been fully performed, while their partial performance had formed so grave a strain upon the resources of the corporation that the value of the borough estate had been seriously diminished. (fn. 645) But for this condition of things the borough might very well have been the owner of the greater part of the land on which it was built; as it was, a large part of the corporate estate, secured originally by the burgesses' usurpation of the waste in the 15th century, had been sold to meet the corporate debt. (fn. 646) Finally, the exclusive political privileges of the freemen and their exemption from the payment of town dues had become an anomaly and an injustice, because the body of freemen, which since 1777 had not been increased except by the customary modes of inheritance or service, no longer at all represented the community. There were in 1833 only 3,000 freemen (fn. 647) out of a population of 165,000, and many of the 3,000 were non-resident. This number included few of the principal merchants, and only seven out of the 200 doctors practising in the town. (fn. 648) It was composed principally of artisans, to whom their privileges were chiefly valuable for the money to be made out of them in bribes at elections. Hence Liverpool had become so notorious for its political corruption that in 1830 a bill for the disfranchisement of the borough was only prevented by the prorogation of Parliament from passing into law. (fn. 649)
The unsatisfactoriness of the old institutions was shown also in the sphere of poor-law administration, which had been perhaps the most efficient department of borough government. The committee which had for so long controlled the administration of the Poor Law was not recognized by law, and was liable at any time to be overridden by the overseers, if they chose to disregard its orders. In 1814 the committee tried in vain to persuade the open vestry to make an application for a private Act legalizing their position; (fn. 650) after two years' discussion the proposal was rejected, (fn. 651) and in 1817 a Mr. Dennison, being elected overseer, justified these fears by paying no attention to the committee, and launching upon lavish expenditure. (fn. 652) The Sturges-Bourne Act of 1819 (fn. 653) came in the nick of time to prevent the breakdown of the system, for its adoption legalized the position of the committee by turning it into a select vestry, and for some years it was able to do admirable work. (fn. 654) But in the excitement of the agitation for the Reform Act party feeling crept in here also and showed itself by constant appeals to the open vestry and to polls of the whole body of ratepayers on the smallest points. (fn. 655) The survival of the open vestry in so large a population was a nuisance and a danger.
Liverpool was thus ready for the Reform movement, and it is not surprising that in the reforming Parliament of 1830 and in its successor the Tory town was for the nonce represented by Whig members. The Reform Act of 1832 itself began the process of local reconstitution. Not only did it enfranchise the ratepayers, placing them on a level, for the purposes of parliamentary elections, with the freemen, but, for the same purpose, it enlarged the borough's boundaries, including within them the populous suburbs of Everton and Kirkdale, the northern half of Toxtexth, and part of West Derby, (fn. 656) and thus foreshadowing the full absorption of these districts for municipal purposes also.
But the legislation which followed the Reform Act was of far greater local import. The two great commissions—that on the Poor Laws and that on the Municipal Corporations—which the Reformed Parliament sent out to investigate the condition of local government both reported not unfavourably on Liverpool: the Poor Law Commission found the town, indeed, to be among the best administered in England, (fn. 657) while the Municipal Corporations Commission, though it disclosed many grave defects, found no evidence of serious maladministration. (fn. 658) But the changes introduced by the two great Acts were of such a character as to mark the beginning of a new epoch. The terms of the new Poor Law did not, indeed, involve any such wide change in Liverpool as in other places; it established finally the authority of the popularly elected select vestry, and put an end to the defects and uncertainties of the Sturges-Bourne Act; but the authority of this body was still confined to the limits of the old township and parish, the new and populous outlying districts being left to the administration of the Toxteth Board of Guardians or the West Derby Union. The Municipal Reform Act was far more serious in its results. It made the Town Council for the first time in its history a popularly elected body. It placed the election in the hands of the body of ratepayers, to whose level the freemen were now in practice reduced. It empowered the council to take over the functions of the Watching, Lighting, and Cleansing Board; that is to say, it turned it from being the mere administrator of the estate of a privileged minority into a body responsible for the health and general well-being of the whole community, and thus rendered possible, and indeed suggested, an indefinite enlargement of municipal functions. Finally, in one of its schedules, it enlarged the boundaries of the municipal borough so as to correspond with those of the parliamentary borough as fixed in 1832.
The history of Liverpool since 1835 has been one of rapid and steady development on all sides, unmarked by outstanding or conspicuous episodes. It is impossible to follow its course in detail; and it will be most convenient to summarize it under headings, in a more or less tabular form.